AAhhh………..dining alfresco! One of summer’s great pleasures and a great way to enjoy the soothing sights and sounds of nature. Communing with nature always gives my spirits a lift and what better way than dining in an outdoor setting; on a boat dock, under a large tree, in a secluded garden, on the loggia or a poolside deck.
For dinner at dusk, my friend Suzanne used to set a formal table under a large oak in her Alabama backyard complete with a beautiful tablecloth, fine china and silverware, crystal goblets and silver candlesticks. She would hang an old candle chandelier from a tree branch to complete the setting. It was a very special and unforgettable experience!
Food just seems to taste better alfresco and I always have so much fun coming up with creative and unique table settings. Mix and match china, flatware and unexpected object d’ art to create exotic, whimsical, formal or country casual themes. Fresh flowers are a must and of course candles for those special evening dinners.
So give your imagination some free rein and create your own enchanted space for dining alfresco!
Dennis and I hope you and yours have a fabulous summer!
An enchanted outdoor room becomes a peaceful retreat with shimmering water features, the music of wind chimes, the allure of the fire pit and the magic of fireflies. We placed these fabulous lights, http://www.fireflymagic.com, in our shrubbery in the back yard and felt like kids again chasing fireflies with a mason jar!
Outdoor furnishings are available to create your own special rooms for living, dining, entertaining and even sleeping. No longer the old boring outdoor fabric fare of the past; we now have a banquet of new fabrics in colors and patterns that define traditional, exotic, Zen, modern and just about any style your imagination can invent!
I remember my grandmother’s sleeping porch when I was growing up in South Georgia. What a special treat to spend the night and be lulled to sleep with the soft music of the night and the fragrance of Night Blooming Jasmine wafting on the warm summer breeze!
Dress out your favorite outdoor rooms with fabrics, furnishings and accessories that reflect the colors of summer. Chartreuse, mint, shades of blue and coral are right in style these days and you are limited only by your imagination and daring! Let nature inspire you……………………………..
Have a fabulous summer and remember to “live life with joy, wonder and style!”
Clay and Dennis
World events being what they are today, your home should be a haven that nurtures your soul and restores your spirit! Restful and serene interiors that reflect nature and incorporate the beauty of organic materials are the hallmark of a restorative home. Lucious silk, fine cotton, textural linen, the warmth of wood and the earthiness of stone are a few tactile choices that awaken the sense of touch and sight, creating the home as sanctuary.
Please click on photo to veiw larger image of this restfull and nurturing master bedroom; deep, rich colors with silk drapery and bedding. Sumptious!
Enjoy beautifully scented candles, fresh, fragrant flowers and perhaps create a “memories” potpourri filled with shells collected on seaside vacations; flowers, recieved as gifts that you have dried; saved champagne and wine corks from life’s celebrations or other special objects that evoke fond memories! Caress the sense of smell!
Comforting sounds such as recordings of wind chimes or bird song and soft music playing in the background along with the laughter of family and friends imbue a feeling of peace and contentment.
Hand crafted bowls filled with sumptious fruits or vegetables give you a renewed appreciation of nature’s bounty!
Family heirlooms, collected treasures and old books are wonderful for those contemplative moments.
Choose soft color palettes to impart a calming ambiance or darker, richer colors to embrace and cocoon. Color is very personal, you should choose those that make you feel peaceful and happy, then wrap yourself in them!
This step is crucial! Clear out clutter and do some “spring” cleaning. Remove anything that has a negative vibe. It’s great, cheap therapy and will create a positive, happy energy in your home!
Finally, immerse yourself in the beauty and serenity of art and objects that speak to you in a special way; wheather a fabulous flea market find or priceless antique, these are the elements that create the home as sanctuary! Till next time, remember to “Live Life with Joy, Wonder and Style”! Clay
Dennis and I woke to a gloomy, rainy day here in Central Florida this morning. Although we do enjoy an occasional rainy day, we felt we needed some comfort food ! Since we are trying to live a more health promoting lifestyle, and eggs Benedict is one of our favorite comfort foods, we came up with this healthy alternative.
Ingredients needed to serve 2 :
4 large eggs from cage free raised hens fed a vegetarian diet with no hormones or antibiotics.
4 whole wheat English muffins, split
4 Vegetarian sausage patties
For the Hollandaise sauce:
Mayo made with extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon – halved
salt (optional- we don’t add salt)
Black pepper to taste, freshly ground
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. low fat Greek yogurt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp garlic powder , or to taste
1/8 to 1/4 tsp turmeric; just enough to turn the “Hollandaise”sauce yellow.
For the garnish:
Parsley or fresh chives, chopped
Make the mock “Hollandaise” sauce:
Combine the following with a whisk, in a microwave proof container, we use a 2 cup measuring cup
– 3/4 cup EVOO mayo
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
-1/8 to 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, or to taste
-1/8 to 1/4 tsp. turmeric, just enough to make the sauce yellow
-1/4 cup water
-1/4 cup low fat Greek Yogurt
Place in microwave and heat gently
Toast 2 split English muffins; spread tops with a thin layer of EVOO mayo, keep warm
Cook the 4 vege sausage patties according to oven baked directions on package ( we find that microwaving the patties makes them tough) , keep patties warm
Poach the 4 eggs; leave yolks runny or done to your taste
-Top muffins with sausage patties, eggs and then the sauce; sprinkle with chopped parsley or chives and a little paprika.
Yumm-O ! A healthy, hearty and happy comfort food breakfast!
Till next time,
Luscious coral and turquoise are current haute colors in our design world and look so very fabulous together! Orange, popular for a few seasons now, has evolved into coral, a blend of pink and orange; a beautiful color that combines with almost any other color in the spectrum including, but not limited to, turquoise.
My color inspirations come from many sources including the fashion runway ( current interior design color trends usually begin on the fashion runway! ) You can also draw your color inspirations from travel (one of my favorites!), nature, art, a farmer’s market and so much more!
- Coral combined with turquoise creats an exotic and tropical ambience.
- Black and white punched up with coral makes a bold, graphic statement!
- Sophisticated and glamorous – coral and gray.
- Combine coral with shades of citrus green ; very fashion forward!
- Purple plays with coral to create an exotic , global vibe—– I love it!
Yellow, many shades of blue, red and even pink are other colors that you could combine with coral to create your own personal and delectable color statement!
Thank you for joining me here to see my latest Interior Design Color Trend Alert highlighting Luscious Coral and Turquoise ! I hope you have enjoyed this post! Stay tuned for more! Clay
Nail-head trim details are experiencing new-found popularity in the interior design world! Nail-head trim is showing up on accent furniture, chairs, barstools, beds, tables, picture frames and more. Nickel, bronze, brass or black they add a definitive touch to whatever they grace!
Did you know? Nail head trim dates back to the era between 1560 and 1643 when the French Country style was first introduced during the reign of Louis XIII and has remained popular ever since.
I have pictured here some examples of furnishings and accents featuring nail-head trim details.
All items shown are available through Clay Stephens Lifestyles. Please contact us for pricing and more info at email@example.com
I hope you have enjoyed this brief trend alert on the popularity of nail-head trim! (more…)
April in Paris ! I was fortunate enough to visit Paris in April and enjoy the amazing sights, sounds and fabulous food in this vibrant, exciting city ! April is a luscious time of year to visit Paris; masses of tulips, cherry blossoms, daffodils and apple blossoms abound in the gardens and parks.
Although our visit was somewhat short, we saw many of the beautiful, historic sites in the heart of Paris, including the Louvre; Musee d’ Orsay on the Seine;the chill bump inducing, awe-inspiring stained glass windows of the Sainte Chappelle; Notre Dame; the Arc de Triomphe, and of course the Eiffel Tower.
On one of our many strolls through the streets of Paris, we discovered a friendly and accommodating, quaint restaurant that served some amazing food including onion soup. I could not get their recipe, but my friend Rose, who was born and raised in France, gave me hers and it is very similar to the soup we were served at this quaint restaurant. I am not sure, but I think the restaurant was the Cafe de la Bourse. I know it was one of the restaurants where we had a wonderful experience and great food!
Rose’s French Onion Soup, or as she says “Soup a L’Oignon” .
4 or 5 large white onions , sliced thinly.
1/2 cup butter
1 Tablespoon sugar
6 cups beef stock, preferably home-made
1/4 cup good cognac
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 rounds of
toasted French bread. Butter both sides after toasting
Grated Gruyère Cheese, about 2 cups
Cook sliced onions in butter in a large saucepan, with the sugar; cook very slowly, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until golden brown. Add stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook , covered, about one hour.
Just before serving, add cognac and spoon into earthenware bowls over toasted French bread rounds. Top with lots of grated Gruyère cheese and melt under the broiler.
This serves about 4 as an appetizer.
1– Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. I add it to rice and chicken dishes, sprinkle it in soups and combine in my salad dressing recipes.
2– Cinnamon helps regulate your blood sugar and is a great antioxidant. I sprinkle a little in my coffee in the mornings; tastes great and is good for you, too! Cinnamon also combines well with Turmeric and Cumin in many savory dishes, but you only need a touch!
3– Cumin enhances immunity and increases metabolism. I love Cumin added to guacamole, my yellow rice and chicken recipe and almost any pork dish. Its great in Chili, too!
4– Garlic has many great health enhancing benefits; It acts as an anti-inflammatory and has great cardiovascular benefits, just to name a few. Garlic is easy to incorporate into most savory dishes. OK, so I just can’t cook without garlic ! I use it in almost all recipes where I use onion ( another great health enhancing bulb!).
You should use these only as seasonings, not as high dose supplements! As with anything, herbs and spices included, there are side effects in high doses. As my mother used to say ” Everything in moderation!”.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and will try incorporating these 4 Health Enhancing Spices into your own recipes!
1- Paint your ceilings a shade of blue; this gives the feeling of sky and opens up the space. Go one step further and paint a “sky’ mural on the ceiling complete with clouds and birds! Or whatever your imagination dictates! I once painted the ceiling of a young girl’s room with a blue sky , pink-tinged clouds and a Pink Flamingo in flight – so fun! The picture at right shows a cloud ceiling I had painted for a client, even though the ceilings weren’t low in this room, it still opened up and expanded the space and added a relaxing ambience.
2- Use low profile furnishings in the room.
3-Hang your drapery as close to the ceiling as you can or even ceiling mount them; the drapery should be floor length.
4-Paint your crown molding the same color as the ceiling or, if you don’t have crown molding, paint the first 3 or 4 inches of the wall (where it meets the ceiling) the same color as the ceiling.
5-Hang your art higher ( not too high, though) and use art with a vertical shape.
6-Use vertical striped wall covering or paint vertical stripes on the walls.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and will find it useful! I would love to hear your ideas about how to make low ceilings appear higher!
Wishing you happy and healthy living with fabulous style ! Clay
I want to share my recipe for Shrimp Gazpacho with a Southern Twist! This is so refreshing and delicious, especially during the warmer months that are just ahead! It also sports many health benefits! I grew up in southern Georgia so almost all of my recipes will have a Southern touch to them. My mother was a great cook and I got my love of cooking from watching her prepare special meals for our family.
Health studies have shown that people who eat one cup of gazpacho 2 to 3 times a week enjoy many health benefits including lower blood pressure. Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, which is believed to lower your risk of some cancers.
Clean and shell fresh , wild caught shrimp ( do some research on farm raised shrimp and you will see why I specify “wild caught”!) Allow at least 6 per guest or serving. Bring to a boil enough of you favorite beer to cover the shrimp, add in the shrimp and turn off burner. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the sauce. This serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as the main meal.
For the sauce, mix together:
2- cloves chopped garlic
3- tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2- tbsp. good balsamic vinegar
2- tbsps. frozen lime or orange juice , depending on the flavor you want.
A good splash or two of Worcestershire sauce.
A dash of Tobasco, or to taste.
Sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 c. chopped , vine ripened tomatoes, including juice or canned , chopped tomatoes including juice.
1- red bell pepper , chopped.
Chopped celery, 2 or 3 stalks
1/2 c. chopped fresh watercress* , you can substitute parsley or basil , if you can’t get watercress.
A healthy glug of Ketchup; one made without high fructose corn syrup.
Add the cooked shrimp and chill thoroughly. Before serving, garnish with some fried corn kernels (you can use frozen corn) , slices of avocado, sprig of watercress and 2 or 3 shrimp placed artistically on top!
Serve with some homemade corn bread or crusty garlic bread, and there, you have Shrimp Gazpacho with a Southern Twist! Enjoy!!
* Water cress is a super green! Ounce per Ounce it has more vitamin C than an orange and more calcium that whole milk. It has tons of beta-carotene and vitamin A, and is a better source of vitamins C, B1, B6, K, E, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Zinc and Potassium than apples, broccoli and tomatoes. I say eat more watercress!!
Wishing you Healthy living with Joy and style!
Although Mario Buatta and I have a different design aesthetic, I agree with his views on the power of paint and the use of color, especially on ceilings. I’ve said this before and Mario Buatta says it again in a recent issue of Elle Decor ” The ceiling is the forgotten surface. Paint it a color, or cover it with wallpaper……….” I haven’t , voluntarily, left a white ceiling in any of my interiors in over 20 years. When I walk into a space with a white ceiling it is so jarring and distracting to me! Of course in an all white room with a white on white color scheme you might leave the ceiling white but I would probably paint it a different tone than the walls; maybe pale gray or soft camel, depending on the rest of the elements of the room. I recently covered a tray ceiling in a model home with cork wall covering and it looked spectacular!
So remember the power of paint when designing your rooms and do something with that ceiling!! For example, pale blue brings in the sky and a pale yellow replicates sunshine; be creative and experiment! Rules were made to be broken!
I painted the ceiling in the dining room shown here in terracotta to match the walls and floors; imagine this room with a white ceiling……………………………………..
Chintz originated in India where it was wood block printed, stained or painted on calico fabric. It was imported by Protugese sailors to Europe in the 1600s. Style consious English women of the 1600s and 1700s re-imagined it and used it for clothing and home decor. It was extremely expensive and rare but over time found its way throughout Europe and America and has remained a perennial favorite since. Google chintz and see the Wikipedia difination- very interesing!
Cultivated since around 371 to 287 BC, the artichoke is believed to be native to the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. The part we eat is the flower bud of the plant that opens to a beautiful violet-blue thistle flower.
Aegean legend says that Zeus seduced a beautiful young mortal woman and was so smitten with her that he made her a goddess so she could stay close to him at his home on Olympia. Becoming homesick, she made a secret visit back to the world of mortals to see her mother. When she returned to Olympia, Zeus was so enraged by her un-goddess like behavior that he hurled her back to earth in the form of a thistle plant, what we now know as an artichoke.
1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
1 large tomato( home grown or farmer’s market,of course!) cut into chunks.
1/2 cup fried corn kernels; these are so good!
1/2 cup sliced black olives
A good splash Balsamic vinegar
2 0r 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Garlic powder to taste
Salt, if you like.
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of Italian herb blend
A good sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese
Fabulous and healthy flavors of the Mediterranean! I hope you have enjoyed the legend of the artichoke and my recipe! Stay tuned for more!
Pineapple motifs have been a popular interior design theme for centuries. Christopher Columbus discovered the pineapple in the Caribbean Islands and transported it to Europe where it was grown in hot houses. From there it made its way to the American Colonies and on to Hawaii, where it was cultivated on large plantations. Florida also had many Pineapple plantations at one time. The Europeans gave it the name pineapple because the outside resembled a pine cone and the inside fruit was sweet like an apple.
Hostesses in the American Colonies would rent them from produce grocers for their special dinners and then return them to be sold to the wealthy for consumption! Because of pineapple’s great popularity for entertaining, it soon became the symbol of hospitality and friendship and the motif was incorporated by artisans into many decorative carvings used as interior design elements above doorways, as finials on gate posts and other areas of the home. Today we still see the motif in dishes, platters , bedpost finials and many more home accents used for interior design projects including decorative pillows, upholstery fabrics and drapery.
If you are southern born, like me, you are probably familiar with the practice of painting porch ceilings the color “haint blue”. The ancient African tradition, brought to the south by the slaves, of painting window and door trim, shutters and porch ceilings a watery shade of blue to ward off haints or evil spirits, has become part of the cultural fiber of southern towns like Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans. It was believed that haints could not cross water so this water-like color tricked the spirits into believing that they couldn’t enter, therefore protecting the dwellers from misfortune. Visit the Sherwin Williams web site and see color SW6944 Pool Blue shown at right ;this is a haint blue tint. Haint blue can range from sky blue to aqua shades and graces many porch ceilings in the old south.
Did you know? The chaise lounge (spelled longue, in French), or “long chair” as translated from the French, is a cross between a chair and a day bed and can be used for sitting or reclining and the correct pronunciation is sheyz long. Almost all cultures including the Romans, Egyptians and Chinese developed some form of the chaise lounge. It became considered a “must have” for the stylish home during the reign of King Louis X
I am incorporating this one into a client’s master bedroom design. This Chaise is from Kravet and is so chic covered in an Alligator patterned, off white chenille fabric!
Leopard prints are hot in the design world today; every color imaginable seen on the fashion runway, furniture, accessories, pillows, wall coverings, napkin rings, dinner plates and, yes, even a car!!
1965 Mustang convertible and I painted the top in Leopard print—
it was amazing and got a lot of attention, as you can imagine!
INTERIOR DESIGN COLOR TRENDS SNAPSHOT for 2013 / 2014:
Combinations of ocean inspired blue and green tones with touches of exotic purple, coral and sunny yellow create a tropical vibe. Think the Caribbean Islands!
Instead of the currently popular cool gray ( which I have just begun to cozy up to ) as a base neutral , we will see warm browns come back into play as we move into 2014. Warm brown tones mix beautifully with tones of pink, coral, aqua , orange and of course black and/or white. I am always comfortable in a predominately brown interior and especially love a brown and white combination with touches of metallic silver; Timeless and elegant!
Exotic interiors with a Global Vibe ( a favorite design direction of mine) look great dressed in earth tones touched with spice colors; reds , oranges and yellows———–add touches of coral, purple and pink to kick it up a notch! Think Moroccan spice and flower markets!
Colors appeal to everyone in different ways and the combinations you choose should make you feel comfortable, relaxed, joyous and at home! Be bold and creative and design your own unique color palette to reflect your lifestyle!
I hope you have enjoyed this interior design color trends snapshot for 2013/ 2014.
Stay tuned for more!
The Color orange was hot for 2013 and endures as a favorite of the interior design world into Spring 2014, and it is certainly the color du’ jour on the fashion runway! Orange has a history and symbolism that dates back centuries. Orange is the color of fire and the sun; it symbolizes endurance and strength. Orange energizes and promotes a sense of fun! In Buddhism, orange symbolizes illumination and the highest state of perfection. Many cultures have used orange in their religious ceremonies and dress for centuries.
The color orange is experiencing a renaissance in the interior design world and is fabulous and fun when paired with Pantone’s color of the year, Radiant Orchid and the currently fashionable citrusy greens !
Dennis and I invite you to visit our newly opened Cocoa Village showroom of eclectic home accents, fine art, curiosities, antiquities and contemporary designer accents!
Also, we just received a new shipment of wonderful accessories; we have had so much fun unpacking them and placing them in our showroom!
Stop in and visit us soon and experience our colorful array of art and accessories; including , of course, The Color Orange!!
Clay and Dennis- Clay Stephens Lifestyles
633 Brevard Av., Cocoa Village, Fl. 32922
Outdoor living and dining is at its best with nature inspired color palettes that enhance your oasis of peace and comfort. Beautifully designed garden rooms with soothing water features and stylish, comfortable furnishings create the perfect ambiance for gathering and relaxing with those dear to you. Patios, balconies, verandas, boat docks and poolside decks are just a few candidates for planning your own special place of serenity and enchantment for alfresco dining and entertaining! Scented candles, wind chimes, Moroccan lanterns and floating candles in a garden pond scattered with flower petals imbue the balmy evenings with a sense of ease and well-being. You can even add the magic of fireflies; check out http://www.fireflymagic.com I used them in the plants and shrubs surrounding my outdoor living area.
Dress out your special retreat with accents and accessories that reflect the colors of spring. Shades of green, Chartreuse, pink, purple, sea inspired blues and orange are a few good choices. The combinations are limited only by your imagination and daring; let nature inspire you to be your creative best!
You can click on each photo to enlarge it for better viewing.
So have some fun with this glorious season of hope and new beginnings and create a fabulous outdoor living and dining space for you and your family and friends to enjoy !
Stay tuned for more to come! Clay
Did you know that the fabulous color , Chartreuse, was named after the wonderful French liqueur Chartreuse? The liqueur was introduced in 1764. This yellow/green color mixes beautifully with purples, pinks, maroon, brown, blue and almost any color you can imagine! I really love the kick it adds to most color palettes and it is a classic and always in style.
These two painting I did a few years ago both show shades of Chartreuse combined with purple, red, yellow and blue.
Use a lot or use a little, Chartreuse (the color) is a fabulous color!
In a recent article published in Elle Decor, Rose Tarlow, a well-known deisgner in California said ” Anyone who becomes a decorator has to be obsessed with beauty. That’s a gift, but it can also make you crazy.”
I agree with her and recently tweeted that “you have to be just the least bit crazy”to be an interior designer; and it really is true. You have to be totally obsessed with it to be good at it! I grew up with a keen interest in art and design and even at 8 ro 9 years old, while visiting relatives, would re-arrange their living room furniture; I have wondered since if they were happy to see me arrive or happy to see me leave!
I have always been a fan of timeless, neutral interior color schemes and when left to my own devices will alway treat my interiors this way. I have photos of interiors that I have done as long as 20 years ago and because I used neutrals and clean, simple lines in my furnishings, they still look current today.
I have included a photo of an interior I did within the last several years. Can you tell what year it was designed and in what city?
I have always loved to have live orchids and bromeliads, and sometimes fresh-cut flowers as a part of my everyday home decor. I believe, and there is research that shows, that being close to nature lifts the spirits, energizes the soul and creates a sense of joy. Having fresh flowers and/or live blooming plants in my home decor, for sure, gives me a sense of well-being and happiness and chases away the blues and depression that we all occasionally experience. My philosophy on interior design has always been that the home should be a place that embraces and nurtures you and brings you joy and happiness; Feng Shui at it’s finest!
These new abstract seascapes, shown here in my studio, are the start of a series based on my lifetime love affair with beaches and islands. With much time spent on beaches and islands in Nova Scotia, the coast of Maine and on down to the Caribbean Islands and beyond, I can think of nothing that does more to restore my spirit and invigorate my soul than a long walk on a beach!
These abstract seascapes recall and depict those impressions and feelings . I am looking forward to the process of exploration in acrylics on canvas and the process of progression in this series. Stay tuned for more!
Olive oil a shallow roasting pan ( I used a glass one)
Put in the pan- 1 can of baby artichoke hearts; 2 quartered, large, tomatoes; 1 thinly sliced large onion; 1 small jar of sliced pimento with juice; add sliced turkey pepperoni; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, cumin and freshly ground black pepper ( and salt, if desired). Toss all together and bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and serve on a bed of romaine salad; drizzle with Caesar salad dressing( I buy the refrigerated kind in the produce section of the grocery store).
Delicious!!! Easy too!
Next time I’m going to add some sliced black olives———should be fab!
For the 4th of July we really wanted the traditional hamburgers and hotdogs but we had to get creative since we’re on a low carb diet. I came up with Bunless Burger Stackers ! Here’s how-
Cook your burger patties to the desired doneness.
Top with a sautéed onion slice and smear some mayo on top.
Salt and Pepper to taste at this point.
Next layer is a thick slice of tomato(hopefully home-grown and not refrigerated) topped with some ketchup , mustard and dill pickle slices or pickle relish.
Place a slice of your choice of cheese and melt under the broiler.
Top with sliced avocado.
Serve on a crisp bed of lettuce.
Voila! Bunless burger stackers! So wonderful and you are still on your low carb diet!
Nova Scotia in the fall is one of the most beautiful and scenic places I’ve ever had the good fortune to visit! As we drove the Cabot Trail with breathtaking views of oceans and bays, mountains, forests and waterfalls, we sampled exquisite local seafood dishes at every opportunity!
Searching out the most rustic and unassuming restaurants, our contest to see which prepared the best seafood chowder resulted in finding a very charming eatery (unfortunately, I can’t remember the name and have lost my notes from that trip) housed in an old log cabin. They served large bowls of chowder MOUNDED with shrimp, scallops, fish and lobster! The mountain of seafood, surrounded by a tomato-garlic based sauce, towered at least 6 inches above the rim of the bowls! We couldn’t believe our eyes and it was, and still is, the best and freshest seafood chowder I have ever tasted anywhere!
Following is my recipe for bouillabaisse with flavors reminiscent of that restaurant in Nova Scotia, on the Cabot Trail. If you have never driven the Cabot Trail it is a treat not to miss!
I started making this in 1984 and have served it, with some tweaks along the way over the years, to my dearest friends and family with rave reviews!
This is somewhat time-consuming and requires constant attention but is well worth the effort, not to mention the expense!
Bouillabaisse for Eight
2 lbs. grouper filet, or other white fish, cut in small portions
Fresh mussels, at least 4 or 5 per person
40 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 lbs. cooked lobster meat, big chunks please!
4 slices lemon
4 slices orange
pinch of cinnamon
A healthy pinch of saffron or 1 tsp. turmeric
1 red bell pepper, chopped
Fresh garlic, to taste , chopped
Freshly ground black pepper. I use a lot!
Salt to taste; to me, the seafood and tomatoes have enough natural salt but you may want more.
Small sprinkle of cloves
2 large sweet onions, chunked up
2 large tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup tomato sauce or ketchup
Handful chopped parsley for garnish
In a large pot , saute onion in olive oil till transparent. Add the chopped pepper and garlic and cook for a few minutes, till you smell garlic strongly. be careful not to burn the garlic, it will be bitter if you do.
Add all other ingredients, except seafood and simmer on low until all flavors are nicely blended and you can smell the orange slices, maybe 10 to 15 minutes. *If at this point you feel you need more liquid, add more broth but remember this is not a soup and should have more seafood than sauce.
Add grouper and cook for 5 minutes
add shrimp and mussels and cook, covered, 5 minutes or until the mussels have opened. Be careful not to over cook! Nothing worse than overcooked seafood!
Add lobster meat and briefly heat through.
Remove orange and lemon slices and serve topped with some of the parsley along with some dense, crusty bread and the rest of that white wine.
As my aunt Mary would say,”It’s so good, it’ll make your tongue slap your back teeth out!”. Now that’s good!
I hope you will enjoy this taste of Nova Scotia and the Cabot Trail !
I have a vision! You know how much I like the juxtaposition of ancient and organic architecture with modern and clean lined furnishings; like the 12th century oil mill recently featured in Freshome magazine—–love it!
Wouldn’t it be fabulous to build a modern glass house into an ancient Roman temple ruin? Inspired by a trip to Tunisia, where spectacular Roman ruins are plentiful, I created in the side yard of my Cocoa Beach home, a meditation garden using a Corinthian column that I chipped up with a hammer and faux painted to look like an ancient ruined Roman column. I added a classic three-tier water fountain, an iron Mediterranean style garden gate, large old olive urns, lots of Bougainvillea and comfortable garden seating. It was my favorite place to sit with a martini and unwind after a hard day’s work!
Expanding on that idea, I had planned to build a moat around the front of the house with more “ruined columns and a bridge to the entry.
These ideas have evolved to the concept of the modern glass house integrated into a “ruin”. Of course you could never build on a historic ruin, but you could construct a “ruin” with crumbling stone walls, “ancient” columns and “ruined”Mosaic floors topped with a modern glass house like architect Phillip Johnson’s famous glass house in Connecticut.
Can you see my vision? Wouldn’t it be spectacular to live in?Can we start construction right now?
I would love to hear your ideas on this concept. I look forward to your comments!
Syrie Maugham designed her first all white room in 1927, near the end of the Victorian era when rooms were small, dark and cluttered. She cleaned up the clutter , used all white colors with mirrored folding screens, shagreen covered tables, pickled woods, crackled and lacquered finishes; she revolutionized interior decorating and defined the glamour and luxury of the 1930’s.
She was one of the first decorators to strip down and re-finish charming antique furniture pieces, that had little value, in pickled , painted and lacquered finishes giving them a lighter more modern appeal.
Syrie had a penchant for geometric patterned area rugs that she used to ground her rooms and add another layer of texture. As you know, playing texture against texture is so important in a tone on tone interior ; she was a master at this.
Bushy moss fringe, plaster work floor lamps in the shape of palm trees, Dolphin table bases, fur carpets, white leather dining chairs and white velum covered books are just a few of the hallmarks that define the glamour of the Syrie Maugham white on white rooms.
She has had a lasting influence on many designers since that time including one of my favorites, the notable California designer, Michael Taylor. I look at rooms he designed decades ago and they still look current and timeless today! His rooms combined neutral tone on tone colors with fabulous organic shapes and materials; exotic, glamorous, luxurious and most importantly, comfortable! Syrie-ous glamour indeed!
Wow! This combination of fuchsia and orange is so exotic and lush! You know how I love exotic architecture and interiors. As featured in an edition of Object International magazine,Casa Torre, in Mexico, was designed by architect Diego Villasignor in the “palapa” style using chromatic earth tones with touches of Luis Barragan styling and colors. A palapa is a thatched-roof, open sided building or “tiki hut” like structure that offers sanctuary from the hot tropical sun.
Luis Barragan is considered one of the most important Mexican architects of the 20th century and designed some of the most spectacular modernist homes and buildings in Mexico. His use of earth and spectacular sunset colors is fabulous and awe-inspiring. I want to study more about this exceptional, self-taught architect and his use of exotic and earthy colors.
I hope you have enjoyed this brief story on modern architecture in Mexico.
Ten days of relaxed bliss, crystalline turquoise waters, soft white sand beaches and that wonderful, salty sea air———ahhhh, the Abacos! My late partner Bill and I stayed in an old wooden house on the ocean that gave you a whole new respect for the term”rustic”! It was riddled with Woodpecker holes ( we didn’t know this until we arrived late on a Sunday night—too late!). Sugar ants wondered what we were doing in their house, so any groceries had to be kept in the minuscule refrigerator or hung in bags from the rafters.
Noisy Woodpecker visits during the afternoon nap in the back bedroom were a little disconcerting, but harmless after the first scare! We decided to call the place “Woodpecker House”.
Our visit was great fun, though, with long walks on the beach in search of shells and beach glass to add to our collections. Curly tail lizards, very curious and almost tame, always kept us company while lounging on the deck with our evening martinis. Bill was petrified of them, so naturally, they wanted to give him special love and attention! I thought they were cute and enjoyed trying to feed them leftover bits of food.
We first sampled peas and rice, a staple of that culture, on one of our many excursions via golf cart ( pretty much the only means of transport!) into Hope Town proper. A friendly native lady was cooking peas and rice in a ramshackle clapboard hut and convinced us , easily, that we needed to have some for lunch. It was savory, creamy and delicious!
Here’s my take on Bahamian Peas and Rice with a southern spin and reminiscent of Hoppin’ John eaten by all self-respecting southerners on New Year’s day to bring good luck and prosperity! The flavors of the Abacos and Georgia come together, rich and luscious!
The original recipe uses Pigeon Peas and brown rice and has as many variations as there are cooks! Try your own!
You will need:
Olive oil; 1 sweet onion, chunked up; 1 medium jar chopped pimento, drained; 8 or more ounces cooked pork, cut into bite sized pieces; 4 tbsp ketchup; 1 tomato, chopped; 2 cups fresh or frozen black eye peas, cooked with salt and pepper and some of the pork for flavor , than drained; Garlic powder to taste, 2 sprigs fresh thyme( you can use dried); salt to taste; lots of freshly ground black pepper; a 10 oz. can coconut milk; 3 cups water; 3 cups chicken stock; 2 tsp browning sauce; 3 cups uncooked long grain white rice; Worcestershire sauce.
Heat oil in large pot and saute pork briefly to get some of the flavors into the oil, remove pork and cook onion till transparent.
Add Pork back to the pot along with ketchup, tomato, peas, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper.
Stir in coconut milk, water, broth and browning sauce; bring to a boil and add rice. Simmer covered on low heat for 45 minutes.
Serve in bowls with a splash of Worcestershire sauce on each serving along with some Bahamian sweet bread. This is and a wonderful and nutritious one dish meal!
I hope you will enjoy this story and taste of Hope Town!
I am always inspired by travel and the culture, art and artists of other countries. A few years ago, I was blessed to be able to participate in a 12 day art and architectural tour of Tunisia in North Africa. It is a country of great contrasts from a most rustic way of life on the Algerian border to the modern Hotels and casinos on the Lybian border.
One of the most interesting visits was to Village Ken in Sidi-Khlifa. I have never seen so much creativity, and dedication to the arts, in one place; it was truly amazing and inspiring! This village ,or city of the arts ,was the dream of Tunisian artist Nejib Belkhodja and architect Slah Samaoui built it according to the artist’s drawings. Ken in Arabic means ” Once upon a time” and this school is dedicated to re-teaching the disappearing ancient crafts and all techniques and art forms that express the Mediterranean, Arab-Muslim and African cultural heritage. Nejib Belkhodja introduced abstract art to Africa and was tireless in promoting the arts there.
“Artistic creation is what links the multiple fibres of a …….cultural personality. This is a place (that) restores our faith in humanity. Love, friendship, art and architecture flow through this village like water.” anonymous
Glorious masses of Bougainvillea cover the pristine white stuccoed walls which are constructed with only “local materials and ancestral know how”. Music, textile weaving, architecture, pottery, furniture making and the fine and performing arts are just a few of the creative genres taught here with an emphasis on old, traditional methods.
Village Ken remains one of the most inspiring and uplifting experiences of my life and I hope to visit again some day and perhaps spend some time studying the arts there.
During a tour of Antebellum plantations ( I have had a long love affair with old, historical houses!) in Mississippi and Louisiana we were told by the tour guides that bowls of lemons were placed throughout antebellum mansions for their beauty as decoration as well as their wonderful fragrance. This was also considered a sign of wealth in those days because only the wealthy could afford to buy lemons.
Lemons, as far as research can tell, were first cultivated in China or India and South Asia. From there they made their way to the Arabic countries and lemons, or “Persian Apples”, as the Romans called them, were brought to Italy by Christopher Columbus ( he was responsible for importing so many things back to Italy, including pineapples!). He traveled to Hispaniola and introduced them to the Caribbean Islands. During the Spanish conquest of the New World, lemons were introduced to the Americas.
Lemons, in many cultures are the symbol of longevity, purification, love and friendship. In Christianity they symbolize fidelity in love. The Tibetan Buddha, Jambhala is associated with the lemon because of its symbolization of longevity.
I hope this has been interesting and that this brief history of lemons will come to mind the next time you see lemons used for decoration, in art, for fabric designs or other interior design motifs. I do love to have a bowl of lemons on display in my kitchen.
“Design is about enriching lives…………” So says Angelo Surmelis and I couldn’t agree more! I have said before that great design enhances lives and experiences. If you have ever been in a space (private home, hotel room or lobby, museum, etc.) that uplifted your spirits, or gave you a special feeling about being in the moment, you can more than likely thank a designer or team of designers that put a tremendous amount of thought and planning into that space to achieve the result you felt. Nothing gives me more pleasure than having a client tell me that I have enhanced their lives in some way. That is a very special feeling and the reason I love my job as an interior designer!
I had the pleasure , several years ago , to visit the Waverly Plantation Mansion in West Point , MS. My first impression of this stately example of Antebellum Greek Revival architecture still remains strong in my mind today; it was a breathtaking two-story structure built around a third story octagonal shaped cupola. All of the rooms in the house opened on the central area and created a natural air conditioning effect with the hot air rising up, as in a chimney, and escaping through the open windows in the top floor cupola. But the thing that so impressed me was the extensive use of faux painting techniques in the interiors. The pine doors ( pine was the most plentiful wood available in the area) were faux painted in wood grained Mahogany, Walnut or Birdseye Maple finishes and wood baseboards were painted to replicate marble. Until that visit I had not given much thought to the history of faux painting and had assumed it was a contemporary art; now I know that the art dates back millennia to the first cave paintings but the faux finishes in the decorative arts began 5000 years ago in Mesopotamia.
Gray is a classic neutral and has been a “go to”favorite for neutral interiors for several years now. Gray is moving into 2017 more popular that ever !
One of my all time favorites is the combination of gray and camel with accent colors of different shades of green, from blue-greens to leaf and citrus greens. In the living room shown above that I designed a couple of years ago, I used this classic combo with gray stone on the fireplace, textured camel fabric on the sofa and brown and gray shades in the rug and leopard print (of course!) chair. The contemporary art canvas, and the plants, bring in the complimentary shades of green to spice up the neutral palette.
This cozy and comfortable room is executed with a mix of contemporary and traditional pieces with a European vibe! Remember , when working with a neutral palette , you need to use contrasting textures and shapes to add more depth to the space, as I did with the stone texture on the fireplace, the wonderful organic shapes of the three urns, the sculptural shapes of the leaves on the plants and the soft chenille texture of the sofa.
There are many other color trends coming into 2017 and I won’t go into them all now but will be blogging more about that later. Whatever the current trends, your home should be a reflection of who you, and your family ,are and you should surround yourself with colors that give you pleasure, furnishings you love and art that speaks to you ! It’s just good Feng Shui!!
Happy decorating and please check back for more on 2017 color trends and other inspirations for decorating your home! Clay
Sounds yummy! Can’t wait to try!
These make a lovely alternative for breakfast, lunch or a light supper. Add a salad to make them go a little further.
When choosing mushrooms for this you need a very large mushroom that is thick and it’s sides are intact, any cracks and your egg will disappear through them!
I cooked these mushrooms in the oven but they will happily cook on a BBQ flat plate at a medium heat so you don’t burn the base.
4 large portobello mushrooms
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated
4 tablespoons fresh gluten free breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade.
Take a mushroom, remove the stalk and scoop out a little of the flesh, making enough space for the cracked egg.
Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and place on a baking sheet.
Crack an egg into…
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Following is our 2015 Home Interior Design Trends report:
Pantone’s color of the year is Marsala, a red with brown undertones. This earthy and sophisticated tone combines well with most colors including aqua, olive, shades of blue, black, plum and gray.
Animal prints continue to be HOT on the fashion runway and in home interiors.
Get Ready! 1960’s retro is trendy for now! Olive green shades ( we called it Avocado in the sixties). Bold contrasting colors such as orange and blue and glamorous black and white interiors speak to the sixties retro vibe.
Acrylic furniture interpreted in traditional shapes for accent tables and used for chair and sofa legs; I love acrylic used in a traditional interior to add an artistic touch of the unexpected!
Stone, organic and timeless, is showing up on lamps , accent tables and accessories; quartz, alabaster, petrified wood and agate, to name a few.
Metallic finishes will be very popular with brass leading the way followed by copper, silver and gold. These finishes will be seen on accent tables, lamps and lighting fixtures and accessories.
Thank you for reading our blog! I hope you have enjoyed our report on 2015 Home Interior Design Trends!
Stay tuned for more and remember to always Live Life with Joy, Wonder and Style!