Friday, July 29, 2011

Beach Read for the Weekend

For most of us, it will be too hot to do anything very productive this weekend.  I don't know about you but my agenda includes reading a book by the pool.

I've been reading Groundswell by Katie Lee.  This novel is entertaining and may help keep your mind off the heat.  The author, Katie Lee is not new to writing books but this is her first novel.  Her other books are cook books.  She hosted the first season of Bravo's Top Chef and writes food and lifestyle columns for various publications.  

BUT, I think Katie Lee draws more from her life as former wife of Billy Joel for her initial novel offering.  The protagonist of the book, Emma, is a likable character who goes from rags to riches when she meets and then marries a famous movie star.  The book chronicles her move from a "nobody" to finding her way in the celebrity world.  Does she live happily ever after?  

You'll have to read for yourself.
Happy Weekend 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

DIY: Plasti Dip Projects

I first became aware of Plasti Dip from a House Beautiful article featuring Hardware Store Design Products. Plasti Dip is a synthetic rubber product that can be sprayed, brushed or used as a dip.  
This product can be used as a protective and decorative coating for all sorts of household item.  I tried using it in a decorative way for some simple projects.

I purchased the Create Your Own Color Kit.  I received a 22 oz can of clear Plasti Dip along with the vials of tint in the primary colors as well as black and white.

After watching a tutorial, I mixed a batch of turquoise Plasti Dip in a Mason jar using a chop stick for a mixer.
I brushed the mixture onto the bottom of a basket.  I wanted to coat the basket fiber to make it impervious to water and to prevent the basket from scratching furniture.  I applied two coats, waiting 1/2 hour between coats and allowing the Plasti Dip to fully dry for four hours.  

Next, I mixed a batch of yellow Plasti Dip and brushed it onto the bottom of a straw bag to waterproof the bottom and make it extra durable.
With the leftover colored mixtures, I decided to dip a key to color code it for easy recognition.  I also brushed it onto terra cotta pots to prevent the pots from scratching surfaces and to help prevent moisture from seeping through the bottom of the pots.  

I found Plasti Dip to be an easy product to work with.  Drips easily peeled off my hands.  I can think of other uses for Plasti Dip such as a protective coating for the bottom of  canvas "boat totes" and "mending" worn areas on my garden gloves.  Let your imagination run wild or click here for more ideas.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blog Spotting

I spotted some noteworthy posts on blogs Tuesday that I wanted to share.  Enjoy!

Pink skirt, Milan   The Sartorialist


                                         Source: via Deborah on Pinterest

Food stylist, "Sweet Paul" created cocktails to coordinate with swimsuits for an Everything But Water photo shoot.
Wicker and White from {this is glamorous}

Quote from architect, Bill Ingram.  Posted by Anna Spiro on her blog, Absolutely Beautiful Things.

Have a beautiful and inspired day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

REAL SIMPLE: Uncommon Uses for Your Microwave

I came across some great ideas for unconventional uses of a microwave on the
REAL SIMPLE website.
Disinfect and deodorize sponges.  First, soak sponges in water spiked with white vinegar or lemon juice, then heat on high for 1 minute.  Be sure to use an oven mitt to remove the hot sponges from microwave so you don't burn yourself.
To get the most juice from citrus fruits, microwave them first for 20 seconds before squeezing.

Disinfect plastic cutting boards.  Wash well then rub with the cut side of a  lemon.  Heat in microwave for 1 minute.
Click here for more tips, like how to proof yeast and toast nuts.  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Simple Summer Libation

Occasionally, in the summer, I'll veer from my nightly glass of wine while preparing dinner, to a glass of refreshing Pastis.  
Pastis, is a liqueur, with an anise flavor made from star anise and extra flavor from licorice root.  Pastis became popular after the ban of absinthe and is a popular drink in the south of France.  At 40 - 50% alcohol, this is liqueur that is diluted.  Note the clear yellow color in the photo.

Ice water is added to the pastis and the liqueur becomes cloudy or milky looking.  There is very little sugar in pastis so it is a refreshing, crisp drink that doesn't dull the palate.  How about that glass and carafe?  Hubby surprised me with a set of glasses and carafe one day.  Perfect size for sipping this refreshing but potent drink. 
Have you ever tried pastis?  What do you think?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Weekend: Gardening, Blue Angels, and other events.

Like most of the US, it has been "wicked" hot here in Michigan.  I've been going to my garden at 6:30 am with my puppy to harvest and water.  I'm suppling the neighbors with lettuce, spinach and green beans.  Today I made pesto with my basil bounty.  
I transport the flowers and herbs in a glass vessel to keep them from wilting.  I thought the basil, dill, cilantro and zinnias looked pretty although I just "stuck" them in the vase. 

Thursday afternoon, I was entertained by the Blue Angels, practicing for a weekend air show. They were flying directly overhead for about 2 hours.  I'm looking forward to the real show. 

Sunday evening is our couples book club and Saturday is a Puppy Extravaganza at the  Leader Dog campus.  Sounds like a busy weekend.  I hope you have fun things planned and time to relax as well.  Stay cool and see you on Monday.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Picnic Pies

Are these not the cutest pies for a picnic?  They are made in "wide-mouth" 4 oz, glass canning jars. 

                                                                       Source: via Deborah on Pinterest

I saw this on the blog, creaturecomforts, and I knew I had to try making them and share with you.  The original recipe is from and can be found here.

The dough recipe yields 8 individual pies and the fillings, cherry or blueberry are sufficient for at least 4 pies each.  I tried the cherry filling with the abundant Michigan cherries I found at the Farmers Market.  

This is my finished product.  You'll notice that the filling leaked through my crust causing the bottom of the jar to appear pink.  Hubby and I thought the pies were delicious.  Easy to transport on a picnic.  Just screw on the jar lid and then eat from the jar.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bottle Cap Tripod

This is a brilliant camera accessory.Turn a bottle into a tripod.  

No more taking photos at arm's length or leaving someone out of the photo to be the photographer.

This inexpensive little gadget that you can carry in your pocket, slips over a bottle cap.

It has a universal camera mount and costs just $10.  

Click here to see one place where you can buy it.
Click here to watch the video of how to use the tripod.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ice Pops: Fruity, Savory, Creamy, Boozy

Don't these "popsicles" looks refreshing?

Mark Bittman provided recipes for these icy treats in the NY Times on Sunday.

Flavors range from Strawberry-basil, to Tomato-cucumber, Banana-Peanut or Mojito.  Grown up flavors for big kids.  Do you reach for ice pops to cool off?  Click here for recipes and article.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Musings: Is It Fall Already?

If you have been shopping in departments stores, you've noticed summer is over and it is all about fall.  I usually am bothered by this and refuse to shop for fall so early but I did "participate" in the anniversary sale at Nordstrom this past week.

Vera Wang Lavender "Kipp" boot
I went to the store with the full intention of purchasing the Cole Haan Leora boot but the calf was too wide and the toe too round.  While the Vera boot is more $$, I love the fit and style and I think I'll be living in this boot during the cold, slushy weather of Michigan this winter.  The boot is not as clunky or military looking as you may think by looking at the photo.  Tuck your jeans in or give them a cuff, these boots would work well with a skirt and tights too.  What do you think??

To justify my fall purchase...
...I picked up a pair of these Lucky Brand sandals on sale.  
They have zippers up the heels.  I really find them comfortable and just a bit more coverage than flip flops.

Four Seasons Philadlephia, courtyard
A verdant respite in Center City Philadelphia.  This was a very pleasant place to relax over the weekend.
Welcome back from what I hope was a restful weekend.  Make it a wonderful day.

Friday, July 15, 2011

East Coast Weekend

I'll be spending a long weekend in the "city of brotherly love" (Philadelphia) and Princeton, NJ. It will be a time with family celebrating birthdays and other special events.  

The famous Love Sculpture by Robert Indiana at JFK Plaza

Logan Circle
This will be the view from the hotel.  
I'm looking forward to a get-away and a little bit of pampering at the hotel.  I hope you all have a lovely weekend and take time to relax and pamper yourself a bit.  See you on Monday.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Two Looks for a White Skirt

I picked up this white eyelet skirt at Banana Republic.  I love the look of a white skirt in summer and a pencil skirt is my style.  I'll be traveling to Philadelphia for the weekend and I want two looks for this skirt.
White Eyelet Skirt, Banana Republic

 I went to Polyvore to put together two looks.  I use the same bag and stay within the same color family.  What do you think?  
Two looks, one skirt
                                    Two looks, one skirt by Spiralstyle


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mango and Shrimp Wraps

It's too hot to cook and too hot for a big meal.  These Mango and Shrimp Wraps are the perfect answer to "what's for dinner?"

photo from Epicurious website
Poached shrimp and sweet mango in an herb dressing are wrapped in flour tortillas.  
I used spinach from my garden in the wraps rather than the suggested watercress.

The recipe for the Mango Shrimp Wraps can be found here.  Don't be shy with the fresh herbs, be generous and add a bit more salt as well.  I served "fresh from the farmer's market" sweet corn with the wraps.  Sliced tomatoes would be a great accompaniment.   You can make these wraps in no time at all.  If you make them ahead, don't add the mango until you are about to serve as they will make the mixture watery.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Butler Tray Bar

I've been looking for a butler's tray to use as a bar for quite a while.   I posted an example of what I was looking for here.  

This is my solution

I found a pair of butler's tray stands at the Ann Arbor Antique Market last month.  After a workout with steel wool and denatured alcohol, I gave the already distressed finish a coat of stain in a walnut color.  This darkened the finish just a bit.  I replaced the cheap, lawn chair-type straps with leather.  A purchased tray from West Elm tops the stand.           

The latest edition of Lonny Magazine features a tray table similar to mine.  I was interested to see what was on the tray.  On my tray I have my favorite summer drink mixers on a silver tray along with an ice bucket, linen napkins and a bowl for nuts or olives.  I'm sure I'll be changing the "scene" with my mood and needs.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Musings: Flowers

Happy Monday dear ones.  I hope you are rested and relaxed from a lovely weekend.  Aren't you just loving summer and being outside?  My garden and deck plantings are blooming and producing.  I enjoy eating from my garden and having an abundance of fresh herbs to choose from.  An added pleasure this year is having a cutting garden.  

These are the first cuttings of the zinnias I  planted from seed.  They are a variety that is all oranges and yellows.

These two plots are my "rental garden" from my town's organic garden project.  Right now I have an abundance of lettuces, spinach and herbs.  By the end of the week I'll have haricots verts.  

I'm carrying flowers too with this handbag I found.  The floral print is on a soft leather.  Lots of handy pockets inside too.  
Have a glorious Monday.

Friday, July 8, 2011

West Elm Sale

West Elm is having a sale and lots of items ship free. 

So if you don't have a garden with a water feature, how about a table top lily pond?

Tropical inspired mirror of coconut chips and beads

Bold patterned fruit plates for al fresco dining

Some sculptural sea life to evoke the beach

Have a wonderfully relaxing weekend.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Color and Pattern Inspiration

I love color but hesitate to mix pattern AND color.  
I am very inspired by this combination of both.
from House Beautiful June 2011  Styled by Sally Markham

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Guest Blogger Angela: Color Inspiration

A special treat today!  
Angela from 365smalldetails is guest blogging on color inspiration.

Hello Spiral Style readers I am so excited to have the opportunity to share my passion for color with you all!!!

 I often find myself pulling colors from items that inspire me, these can be anything from a magazine layout to a piece of clothing. Having a library of color swatches and images that you can refer back to for inspiration is always a must have in my book. These palettes can come in handy for anything whether it be a creative project you are working on, new colors to update your office space, or combining new items in your closet. I am really enjoying the combination of pink and orange lately, throw in a nice neutral and how can you loose?

Angela from 365smalldetails.

Thanks Angela!!  XXOO
Visit Angela's delightful blog by clicking on the link above.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sweet Tuesday

Hope you holiday weekend was a sensational mix of fun and relaxation.

Homemade strawberry ice cream, blueberries and star cookie

Have a sweet week

Friday, July 1, 2011

Celebration Cupcakes

Coastal Living featured these patriotic cupcakes in the July/August 2011 issue.

This dessert would be so much fun for a July Fourth picnic.  Your favorite cupcake would be perfect with white frosting and red/white/blue sprinkles.  It is the star-cookie topper that makes it so special.  You insert a skewer in the cookie dough and then bake and decorate.  Click here for the recipe. 
Have a wonderful holiday weekend!


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