Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Terrific Tailgating

As a Texan AND a Southern girl, fall means football!  And football means tailgating.  Too much trouble?  No way.  Choose a few simple make-ahead recipes and combine them with items you can pick up at your grocery store, such as a platter of chicken tenders, chips, and bakery cookies.  Keep a supply of water, cups, plates and utensils on hand so you're ready to roll in a heartbeat.  A simple caddy is a great idea for keeping these items staged for game day.  Large handled baskets and tubs are a great way to transport everything and assist in the clean up, too.  Add in some inexpensive tablecloths in your team colors from your local discount store, or use your team throw for some added punch.  Bring a few serving pieces from home to add a little style such as lightweight trays, a beverage dispenser or entertaining bucket, and baskets for snacks.

Here's an easy dip recipe to get you started... now GO TEAM!

Bacon-Onion Dip
1 8 oz container of sour cream
1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon
2 tbsp sliced green onions
3 tbsp buttermilk
1 tbsp horseradish
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Garnishes: fresh chives, ground pepper

Stir together first 8 ingredients.  Cover and chill until ready to serve (up to 24 hours).  Garnish if desired.
Serve with assorted fresh vegetables.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Arrangement Assistance

So, you've begun your collection of art and photographs, purchasing those pieces you love and framing your treasured photographs, but you're stumped on how and where to hang them.  Sound familiar?  How about hanging a piece or a group of pieces and deciding something's not quite right?  Believe it or not, art placement is an art in and of itself.  My Museum Studies seminar in graduate school spent a great deal of time on where to put what, exploring how to create a mood, hanging in multiples, dramatic effects, and the intent behind your display.  In other words, hanging your art collection is no simple matter.

David Hassel of ILevel
image from
Rather than leave your treasures propped up against your walls or in the closet, get them up, but maybe get some help in doing so. cast a spotlight on David Hassel and ILevel, his art arrangement and installation consulting company, showcasing one of his most recent projects and quite a challenge at that.  What I found most surprising about his company is how affordable their services really are, so affordable that the article appears in NYT's "On The Cheap" section.  For a few hundred dollars (on average) clients are provided one or two consultants, face-to-face meetings, and actual installation (hanging) services.  When you consider what you may already have invested in your art collection, the professional touch could be the answer to doing it justice.

Google art arrangement or installations companies in your area.  I found Axis Fine Art Installation here in Atlanta, but don't let the name fool you.  They are just as happy to help arrange and install your family photographs as your they are your $3000 fine paintings.  For as little as $145, Axis will send two skilled design consultants to take care of you.  Additonal trips to your home will cost a bit extra, but if your project is small solo consultants are available for an even lower rate.

If you still can't wrap your head around paying for art arrangement services, take the do-it-yourself approach seriously.  Search websites for art arrangements that you find appealing, consult design or decor magazines for images of successful arrangements, dig through books on the topic.  My go-to guide is The Art of Showing Art, by James K. Reeve, available on  Reeve discusses everything from protecting your art, installing your pieces, and documenting your investment.  After all, your collection is an investment, and should be treated as such.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday's Favorite Product: French Wire Tiered Stand

This hard-working product has won me over! The openness of the wirework gives the French Wire Tiered Stand a light quality without sacrificing substance.  It transitions easily from a three-tiered stand to a two-tiered stand or you can use all three tiers separately.  The possibilities are endless... use it to hold fruit on your kitchen island or toiletries, wash cloths, and hand towels in your bathroom.  I picture it as an arts and crafts station in your home office or playroom.  The individual tiers are perfect for serving snacks or organizing remote controls on your coffee table.  What about mail and keys by the back door?  What else can you think of?

Of course, it's also ideal  for displaying and serving food while entertaining! My girls over at Plate and Pattern created a pirate themed children's party using the FWTS.  For $51.96, this is a steal that you will treasure.  Great gift idea, too!  Click HERE to visit my website for more or comment here to be contacted for your order. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Back on Friday...

I'll be back with Friday's Favorite Product and more later this week.  Here's a sneak peek at our Willow House blog, Plate and Pattern.  If you haven't already tootled around this blog, I encourage you to do so-- brilliant ideas and fun to read, too.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday's Favorite Product: Annabelle Iron Votives

My favorite new product today is our lovely Annabelle Iron Votives.  The ironwork is finished in a beautiful and versatile rust-brown and the glass inserts make them especially hard-working.  Use one or two to hold a beautiful bud in water and use the others with your favorite tealights.  Split them up to give as small gifts or party favors!  Fill them with a sweet treat like peppermints or chocolate kisses and then wrap in a cellophane bag with a festive ribbon.  Think teacher, neighbor, and hostess gifts! These are a great bargain at $29.96 for the set of four.  Click HERE to visit my website or contact me to place an order. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Closet Envy

I love to peek into celebrity closets-- as much for the organization as the fashion!  There's just something about a well-organized closet that just helps one breathe a little easier. is featuring several celebrity closets that will make you green with envy, including Nate Berkus, Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer, J Crew's Jenna Lyons, and fashion designer Nanette Lepore.  But that's not all!  You can get your own closet organized for free.  Elle Decor is teaming up with The Container Store (one of my favorite stops!) and giving away a $1500 elfa closet makeover! The contest runs through October 18, 2010.  Click HERE to enter and though no purchase is necessary, I bet you'll find something at that you just have to have. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September To-Dos: Inspect and Refresh!

I always think of September as not-quite-fall: more of a transistion month.  And it's the perfect time to get your game face on for holiday decorating and entertaining (yes, it's right around the corner!) without going whole hog.  Here's a few tips from my own To-Do list this month.

  • Inspect all of your outdoor pots or containers, patio furniture, and outdoor dinnerware.  Will they be good for next season or is it time to replace?  Now is the time to take advantage of sales on those items.  Toss any broken pots or containers and be ready to start fresh for your fall plantings.  Click HERE for my recent post on transitional plantings perfect for September.
  • Try to extend the life of any potted plants that still look good for the next few weeks.  Water them throroughly and give them a little extra TLC until you're ready to completely redo your containters for fall. 
  • Inside, give your walls and woodwork a good once-over.  Mine tend to take a beating over the summer with my family crashing in and out!  Old Reliable for me is a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to take care of handprints and grubby places.  Don't forget around doorknobs and doorjambs.  Will you need to repaint, or will a touch-up suffice?  Do it now, whatever it is; in a few short weeks the holidays will be knocking on the door.
  • Pull out your afghans and see if they need to be dry-cleaned or washed.  Swap out throw pillows, either between rooms or pick up a couple of fresh ones from your local discount store to freshen your look for awhile.  Target usually has great deals on two-packs of solid color pillows. 
  • Trade out your pillar candles for fresh ones and nestle them in either coffee beans (lighter colored pillars) or unpopped popcorn (darker colored candles).  Easy, fresh, and inexpensive.
  • It's too early for pumpkins and gourds for me, so I turn to apples, pears, and pinecones for the next few weeks.  Pile them on a creamy platter for your coffee table or line them up along your mantle for a clean modern touch.  Click HERE to check out my Simple September Centerpiece that will go the distance until October.
  • Whenever you can, open your windows!  Breathe in the fresh fall air and give your home a chance to breathe, too.
What's your on your September To-Do list?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday's Favorite Product: Lady Jane Bottleneck Vase

I did not expect to love these like I do, but these are gorgeous!  They are each handblown and I think you can see in the photograph the bubbles and slight imperfections in the glass that make each one unique.  Modeled after the demijohn botttles used in wine making, the Lady Jane Bottleneck Vases are statement pieces.  Because they are so simple with just a hint of color, they stand alone beautifully.  But picture them with flowers or fall branches for instant beautification.  They are the perfect accent for a sofa table, coffee table, or your dining room table.

The large vase stands a full 15 inches tall and is priced at $79.86.  The small apple green vase is not so "small" at 11 1/2 inches tall.  She can be yours for $49.96.  Host a party or catalog show and earn them both for free or 70% off.  Click HERE to visit my website and place an order.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Work of Art

Are you intimidated by buying art for your home?  Many people struggle with finding the right piece for their taste and/or their budget.  And forget original art-- isn't it pricey?  Aren't traditional art galleries stuffy and elite?  And what if you get it home and hung and you regret your choice?

Welcome to ArtQuiver, an online art gallery that marries technology with a traditional gallery setting and service.  Launched in 2009 by Founder and President Matt Schenck, ArtQuiver's mission is to provide a venue for consumers to purchase art-- original art-- at their perfect price.  Featuring a wide variety of styles and media and a price range from $350- $20,000, this site has something for everyone.  Artists must apply to have their works featured on the site-- some are emerging, others established, all are talented.

The features I like most on ArtQuiver are the search mechanisms that are interactive, helping determine your taste and generating recommendations, the ability to create your own gallery and save your favorite pieces, and free one-on-one consultation with a designer if you wish.  ArtQuiver also offers free shipping and lifetime returns if the piece doesn't meet your expectations.  In other words, it's no risk for the customer.  But I also love that lesser-known artists now have an innovative venue in which to sell their works, a much larger venue, in fact, than a physical gallery.  Win-win for artist and buyer.  Genius for you and me.

Darren Thompson, South Clark

Fiomena Booth, Fragments of Thought

Karen Arthur, Walk to the Beach Cape Cod

Monday, September 6, 2010

Friday's Favorite Product: Roxy the Reindeer

I love our Roxy Reindeer Accent Towels!  These are super soft and generous in size (27x18 inches) and are only $26.96 for a set of two.  What a sweet touch to bring the warmth of the holiday season into your home.  I'm envisioning one for the kitchen and one for your powder room. 
But I'm also thinking these would be fanstastic little gifts!  Wrap a loaf of homemade banana bread or a bottle of wine in one, tie it up with raffia, and you've got a delightful gift for a hostess, teacher, neighbor, or friend.  Click here to visit my website or contact me to place your order.  Are you feeling the glimmers of holiday spirit?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Simple September Centerpiece

One of my favorite things about September is that it's not quite the end of summer and not quite fall yet.  This super simple centerpiece is inexpensive and celebrates the seasonal transition.

What you need:

  • Any glass bowl, though a footed glass bowl like my Ruffled Glass beauty from Willow House adds a bit of height (click here for ordering information).

  • 2-3 faux or fresh artichokes (these came from Target)

  • 1 bag Fuji apples ($3.99 @ Publix).  I like the Fuji apples because you get the reds, yellows, and greens all in one piece of fruit.

  • 24 inch berry garland (available at local craft stores like Michaels).
How to do it:
Pile apples and artichokes into your glass bowl, making sure the artichokes are visible.  Wrap your berry garland around the outer edge, making sure some of is tucked among the fruit and some is draping off the sides of the bowl.
Enjoy.  Happy September!