Country style, country love, country life. Sharing my inspired, vintage, rustic DIY designs and decor on my blog.
The title of today’s style update email from Crate & Barrel was “The Color Report: Spring’s Coolest Shade is the crisp, classic Indigo. This royal ink has all the dark edge of black, but with a depth of color that is infinitely blue.”
Indigo Blue. Serene. Cool. Bold. Mystical. Wisdom. Sophistication. Justice.
You have to be fearless to decorate with Indigo. Unlimited styles, infinite possibilities. You will make a statement, create a mood, set the stage.
Indigo can be modern
Indigo can be many things, but one thing it will never be is forgettable.
Sunday was yet another glorious day here in the Bay State. Warm & sunny, not a cloud in the sky-not bad for March 18! Time to take the shrink-wrap off the porch. Huh?! Well, last fall we had our old deck enclosed and transformed into a screened-in porch. We didn’t have much time to enjoy it before the winter months were upon us, so rather than packing away all of the furniture and accessories that we had flea-marketed last fall, we decided to wrap the porch in plastic, creating a greenhouse effect while protecting the freshly painted wicker. They shrink-wrap boats, don’t they?! Turns out that since it was such a nice winter, we actually were able to use the porch for sitting and enjoying the outdoors, without actually being outdoors, all winter long. Now that the plastic is gone it’s time to shop for some porch decor- going with the simple pretty country style- lots of red, white and blue, wicker and old wood and iron.
Our first stop was Essex, a pretty little Cape Ann town (pop. 3500) steeped in ship-building history- a go to destination for a leisurely afternoon drive. The town center is surrounded by marsh lands and the Essex River, which leads out to the Atlantic Ocean. Just 25 miles north of Boston, Essex is known for its art galleries, funky antique shops and delicious and plentiful seafood, especially lobster and fried clams. Legend has it the “Chubby” Woodman invented the fried clam back in the early 20th century. On any given summer day, you will find the long lines of hungry tourists and locals alike waiting patiently in lines that snake around the building and down the street for a taste of Woodmans fresh seafood.
Antiquing in Essex is an adventure, and the old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” surely comes to mind. Most of the shops are housed in antique village homes -full of charm and character-each room stuffed to the rafters with junk/treasures. You never know what you might find as you make your way through the packed, narrow hallways and into the yards and sheds of the shops, most of which are within walking distance of one another. Because of its rich maritime history, there is an abundance of nautical art and artifacts available. Everything from buoys to boat models, lobstah traps, maps and brass are available, all prices negotiable.
We came to Essex searching for some hanging pieces to create lighting for the porch. Beyond excited to find these rusted old planters, soon to be transformed into hanging lights for the porch, that will add more of that vintage country style that we love. Pics to follow (once I figure out how to make them). Happy Spring, everyone!
A few years back, while our college-aged daughter was studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland, we had the opportunity to visit that pretty, pretty country. We toured cities and colorful villages, criss-crossing the countryside, enjoying the sights, the sounds and the amazing people. Yup, that’s me upside down kissing the Blarney Stone!
With only one major mishap (let’s just say that it is quite important to check what type of petrol to use BEFORE you pump it into your rental car), our visit to the Emerald Isle was not one to be soon forgotten.
The scenery appeared to be torn from the pages of a Fairy Tale Book, with soaring castles and crumbling forts, thatched-roofed cottages and miles of emerald green countryside playing a stark contrast to the brilliant blue ocean and the oft-gray skies.
Now I cannot blog about a trip to Ireland without commenting on the fabulous cuisine. Whether fine-dining, or helping ourselves to the carvery at the local pubs, the food we enjoyed was hearty, plentiful and so delicious! One item we didn’t find on menus? Corned Beef and Cabbage. What?! Well, after doing much research, I have it on great authority that this boiled dish we Americans all think of as so traditionally Irish is actually not consumed in Ireland much at all! Apparently, most Irish in Ireland do not identify corned beef as native cuisine- this is primarily an American dish with Irish roots.
Along with the great classic Irish music, one thing we did find in every pub? Guinness. If corned beef is more of a myth, then the story of Guinness is legend. It began with a signature in 1759. Arthur Guinness purchased a disused brewery at St. Jame’s Gate in Dublin, Ireland and began brewing porter and ale. Today, over 10 million glasses of Guinness are consumed DAILY, and it is shipped to over 150 countries world wide. Now since Guinness is the most popular beer in Ireland, it seems fitting, on this St. Patty’s Day, to share my favorite recipes that use the famous dark stout as a featured ingredient.
Guinness acts as a meat tenderizer and adds a deep, rich flavor to everything from stews to cupcakes. I have made this Guinness Beef Stew many times, and am always delighted at the depth of flavors. Click on the photo for the recipe:
To serve along with the stew, some lovely Irish scones- this is a basic recipe sent to me from across the pond, that allows you to add whatever flavors you wish. Savory or sweet, scones are most definitely a traditional Irish favorite. And finally, an amazing cupcake recipe featuring Guinness, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Jameson’s Irish Whiskey- three of my favorites! I hope you enjoy these recipes, and enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day-Slainte!
I have rediscovered the wonders of my Crock Pot. By mid-week I am looking to cook something yummy that requires little prep work, makes little mess and provides tonight’s meal, plus leftovers that will take us to the weekend and that I can save right in the pot. One of my favorites? Turkey Chili. Or Chili Con Carne (chili with meat). You brown the meat, chop a few onions, open some cans, then dump all the ingredients in the pot and off you go- the magic crock pot does the rest! Chili is fast and simple to prepare, one recipe makes enough for a small army (see below) and served with some shredded cheddar, a dollop of sour cream and some blue tortilla chips or corn bread-it is so delish!
Before I give you my Sparkpeople Healthy Recipe for Turkey Chili with Corn and Black Beans, a little “chili’ng” history via Wikipedia:
“In Spanish, the word “chile” refers to a chile pepper and “carne” means meat. The first documented recipe for “chile con carne” is dated September 2, 1519. The ingredients were boiled tomatoes, salt, chiles and meat. Bernal Diaz del Castillo, one of Hernan Cortez’s Captains and the source of the recipe, states in his book, that the Cholulan Indians, allied with the Aztecs, were so confident of victory in a battle against the Conquistadors the following day that they had “already prepared cauldrons of tomatoes, salt and chiles” in anticipation of a victory feast. The one missing ingredient, the meat, was to be furnished by the Conquistadors themselves: their own flesh.” YIKES!!!
Now, although I am a country girl at heart, I am certainly not The Pioneer Woman, so I do not have a professional photographer handy to film each step of my cooking process. Instead, just click on the link for the Turkey Chili Recipe on Sparkpeople.com– it is low fat, low calorie-212 per serving, and it is filling, spicy and delicious! I have made a couple of adjustments to the recipe: instead of frozen corn, I add this yummy stuff:
And I usually throw in whatever else I have in the fresh veggie bin that would benefit from a spicy bath, like mushrooms, zucchini, peppers. And if I have a little calorie “wiggle room” (that does NOT refer to my thighs), I will add some shredded low-fat cheddar cheese and a dollop of light sour cream. The best one I have ever tasted-Trader Joe’s Light Sour Cream- if you didn’t see the label you wouldn’t know it was low fat and low calorie- absolutely delish!
Now, if you happen to have a crockpot recipe- can be meat or vegan- low calorie or not, as long as it’s tasty- that you love to eat and would love to share, please send it to me @ email@example.com and I will be happy to post it for everyone!
We are fortunate to live only a little more than an hour’s drive away from our National Seashore, and equally as fortunate to have children who generously gifted us a weekend away at the Chatham Bars Inn. For those of you who have never ventured over the bridge to “The Cape”, Chatham is the quintessential Cape Cod town. Picture a quaint little village sitting on the ocean’s edge, cedar-clad homes and shake shingle roofs, the village lighthouse with it’s beacon lighting the way home for incoming sailors.Winter on the cape is calm and quiet, devoid of the thousands of tourists who flock there in the summer months to take advantage of miles of sandy shores and magnificent beaches. This time of year, solitude reigns, and while walking the beach with a few hardy souls, you may encounter a seagull or two, or the occasional pawprint in the sand, but this is the best time to enjoy all the beauty that the cape has to offer without fighting the crowds.
The perfect place for a weekend getaway, the Chatham Bars Inn has a long and storied history. Construction of the inn began in 1912, when wealthy Bostonian Charles Hardy purchased several parcels of waterfront land, with the intent of building a hunting lodge. Over the years, the inn has undergone additions, renovations and refurbishings, and what stands today is a spectacular historic resort with buildings scattered over 25 acres, all facing the Atlantic Seaboard.
Now this is not going to be a Hotels.com or Tripadvisor.com review, but I will tell you that the service was impeccible, the room was lovely, breakfast was delectable and the main inn was breathtakingly, simply elegant. Not lavish and overdone, our room was so “Country Pretty”- white trim, soft blue accents, heavenly plush bed and a view of the ocean. A perfect place to unwind and reconnect before heading home for another work week.