Strawberries and a Spring Garden

One of our children must spend every penny given to him.  So when he walked with a friend to the Grower’s Market, I was curious to know how he would spend every one of those pennies in his pocket.  He did so successfully on strawberries.  Pounds of strawberries, in fact.

I met Deb of Smitten Kitchen at my high school reunion a couple of years ago (was a bit starstruck!) and as much as I loved her blog, I hadn’t tried many of her recipes.  Really I just enjoyed her beautiful pictures and clever commentary.  Lately though I have been dipping into more and more of her recipes and clearly she knows what she’s doing.  This Strawberry Summer Cake  will be your go-to for picnics, summer barbecues and neighbor gifts – trust me.  And, Wendy, had I made it to the Devon Horse Show this would have come along . . .

This cake provides the perfect segue into my next and latest find – Dishfunctional.  It’s a bit difficult to tell but the pie plate above is sitting on a silver (plate) platter that is one of many purchases from Alfred at Dishfunctional.  He runs an Ebay business out of a 17,000 sq ft warehouse space in my town and occasionally opens up to the public. It is a gold mine.

This is the only picture I took but trust me the place is enormous and filled to the brim with hidden treasures.  I decided to concentrate my efforts on silver plate.  I wanted serving pieces that weren’t too precious.  Here is a bit of my loot before the big soak.

I line my sink with tin foil and dump in a box of baking soda with boiling water to great effect.  This works far better with sterling silver but the silver plate did well, too.

Much better!

I also took home some Waterford crystal wine glasses and double old-fashioned glasses.  These were new in a very dusty box but in mint condition and for a fraction of what I would have paid new.

And, I leave you with some garden pictures. A short-lived but pretty burst of candytuft (Iberis) in my spring garden.  This is a quick spreader and doesn’t need much love but the flowers don’t last for long which is unfortunate as they are so pretty.

Some hibiscus for the pots – freshly planted.

The window boxes are filled with Hostas, Begonias and Caladium.

The Nepeta (Walkers Low) and Geum (Mango Lassi) has started to spill over the edging which is fine with me.

A pot just planted waiting to fill in with petunias, a blue passionflower vine and some helichrysum (licorice plant).

We finally had glass cut for our urn table.  Much better!

I would love to do something like the below but probably not enough air flow.


Bathroom and Kitchen Bling (or not)

One of the reasons I chose subway tile for our master bath project was so that I could spend the extra on the bath fittings.  Here are our Kallista fittings.  They are from Michael S. Smith’s Inigo collection.


Kallista is Kohler’s higher end line and worth every penny.

In our last house, we used Rohl’s Perrin and Rowe line for our faucets.  The faucets come packaged in their own jewelry-like pouches and have a weight to them very different from your standard big fox faucet.

This faucet held up beautifully at our hard-working kitchen sink.

Rohl’s Perrin and Rowe

And we currently have two of these in our master bath.

Perrin and Rowe Viaggio

I have used polished nickel, polished chrome and brushed chrome as finishes but haven’t ventured into brass finishes quite yet.  I have long loved brass, even before it was popular but I am on the fence about using brass fittings.

Here is my Viaggio faucet in brass.

A completely different feel.  Nothing understated about a brass faucet.  For some of us they even provide a time travel vehicle to 1980.

Catchpole and Rye has a gorgeous collection of brass faucets or ‘taps’ (it is a British company).  But as much as I love brass everywhere else, I prefer the polished chrome or polished nickel featured here.

Over the same faucet in brass.

Now why the stylists chose to surround the faucet with soap and flowers in the yellow/orange family is puzzling to me but regardless the brass faucet (even without its sunny props) reads sunshine yellow to me and screams, “I need attention!!!  Look at me!!!”

And this is coming from brass’s biggest fan.

Now there is an exception for me.  And, it’s the kitchen sink faucet.

Brook Giannetti, author, designer and blogger uses unlaquered brass faucets in her Ojai kitchen and really they are quite beautiful and not in the least bit ostentatious.

From Veranda Magazine
From Brooke’s website.
From Brooke’s website.
From Brooke’s website.

The faucet is from Barber Wilsons & Company and is likely a pretty penny.  It will age over time and get that beautiful patina that I personally love about brass so much.

Kitchens seem to date faster than bathrooms and really in 10 years most kitchens need a facelift, no matter how neutral or simple or trend averse.  And because of that, I would consider brass in the kitchen, the unlaquered kind that is.  Of course, my brass faucet would need a Lacanche Range which means I may be sticking with the polished nickel or chrome for a long long time.

from Lacanche


Kitchen Simplicity

Let’s jump across the pond and take a look at these stunningly beautiful kitchens from two UK kitchen companies.  The first, deVOL Kitchens, masters the modern shaker style.  Take note of the minimal upper cabinetry and the abundance of open shelving.  I think I would quickly tire of a dark kitchen in our sunlight-deprived space, but the moody gray-green below is especially appealing to me in pictures.


One of the first kitchen pictures I ran across in a magazine that made my heart go pitter patter was from the UK-based kitchen company Plain English.  If you notice the center islands are not for sitting, they are mostly for working and more often there is a dining table in the center of the kitchen.  The built-in plate racks and hutch pieces are at the top of my wish list for our next kitchen.  And, lest we forget that these kitchens are not just for admiring: the inside of a cupboard . . .

Plain English Design UK
Possibly my favorite kitchen of all time.

Tomorrow I will be back to chat about wood countertops.

Happy New Year, Happy New Kitchen!

Happy New Year, everyone!  It’s 2016 the year of the Red Monkey.  The monkey is a clever animal and will hopefully inspire a clever kitchen design.

This is our 2012 kitchen.  We knew it was a temporary kitchen for us but it was one of my favorites!  The open shelving was the best part – unloading the dishwasher was never so easy.  Had we stayed the island would have been a fixed piece with a warm wood top and some fabric on those windows would have added just the right finishing touches.  Kitchen Open ShelvingAnd here’s our 2006 kitchen.  There are a couple of things that show its decade-old age but for the most part it holds up today.  The yellow walls, hardware and backsplash could be swapped out to easily update this kitchen.  


So, what will our 2016 kitchen look like?

Cabinets:  We will likely use the existing inset, solid wood cabinets and have them painted. We have plenty of cabinets for the space and it just seems wasteful not to reuse them.  They are a shaker style like the above except they are inset which I happen to like better than the full overlay I had in both the above kitchens.

Color:  In our 2000 kitchen, I painted the original 1930s cabinets Benjamin Moore’s Fernwood Green.  I loved them and probably would still love it today.  This go around I will likely go with something a bit more neutral but there will be color.

Backsplash:  This is where things get sticky for me.  Subway tile is easy and pretty but I have done subway tile in 3 houses and in myriad colors.  Am I ready for something different?  Not sure.  There is that glass subway tile that could easily lure me back in.  Sheets of marble could easily sway me as well.  The other option is to forego the tile do something with wood. In my 2006 kitchen my contractor talked me out of a bead board backsplash.  It is a decision I still regret to this day.  I had a 7-day-old baby with me at the design meeting and this man instilled the fear of warped wood into me.  A decade later I know for certain I would not have warped that wood.  I do not use the sink sprayer to douse my backsplash nor do I let vats of boiling water boil over and soak the walls.

Countertops:  And, this is where things go from sticky to standstill.  Quartzite is the top contender at the moment.  It is acts like granite and looks like marble.  Though I did love my honed Virginia Mist granite in the 2012 kitchen.  That looked like soapstone without the oiling fuss and chippy edges.  The other surface that nags at me is wood.  I love a warm wood countertop but need to think about how to make sure it can be properly cleaned.  In our house getting rid of bacteria in wet areas is extremely important and will likely be the ultimate deciding factor.

Hardware:  My 2006 kitchen is very much an early 2000s kitchen with the oversized brushed nickel bin pulls.  Our 2012 kitchen featured bin pulls as well but this time in an antiqued brass and a more squared off design.  Bin pulls stand the test of time but can be linked to certain decades where their popularity soared.

This Edwardian kitchen in a 1910 Edinboro house encapsulates what I love – light, uppers/open shelving mixed with a warm wood.  And, there are those bin pulls!  Worn and weathered and looking just perfect.

via Apartment Therapy