Friday, June 29, 2012

Independence Day

June is coming to a close and that means July 4th is next week.  Here are some clever ideas for Independence Day celebration decorations.

Star garland of popsicle sticks from Epicurious

Dyed rice candleholders from Epicurious

                                                       Source: via Deborah on Pinterest

Red and blue bandanas as napkins in mason jars used for drinks.  Just add a red or blue table cloth and white plates.  Easy!

photo Wall Street Journal
If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can arrange your books in your bookcase to look like a flag!

This cake from Epicurious would be a real show stopper.  

Or take your cue from Real Simple and use a mix of berries with store bought shortcake biscuits and whipped cream.  Or why not angle-food or pound cake? 

photo Epicurious
Keep the adults hydrated and happy with a Blackberry-gin Fizz.   Get the recipe here

Are you  inspired?
Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Iced Tea to Quench Your Thirst

Iced tea is a favorite summer drink with limitless variations. 

Effortless iced tea "brews" in the refrigerator overnight with just cold water and tea bags.  In the morning, the freshly brewed tea is ready for garnishes of your choice such as mint, citrus or berries.

Nothing but fresh rosemary (from your herb garden?) lemon slices and cold water set in the sun to steep.  A simple "tea" that uses no tea leaves.

An adult iced tea with mint, lemon and vodka added to brewed tea and simple syrup.

Citrus added to brewed Red Zinger and Raspberry Zinger tea bags garnished with mint.

 Add blackberries and dried lavender to English breakfast or Earl Grey tea and sweetened with simple syrup.

So do you prefer sweetened or unsweetened?  Herbal, black or green tea?  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wall of Fame

A few years ago I visited a friend who had a whole wall filled with photos.  

I adopted the idea and call it my wall of fame.  I have photos of family, friends and pets.  There are photos from vacations, weddings, graduations and random milestones.  The photos now span over 30 years of memories.  I walk past this wall every time I go to the laundry room and it always makes me smile each time I glance at a photo and remember the person or events portrayed.  

Get some photo paper and start printing.  My frames are erratic in size and design but they are all black.  I pick up frames from craft stores like Michaels or Joann whenever there is a sale or I have a coupon.  I think it is the casual attention to uniformity that makes the wall interesting.  Hanging the frames with 3M Picture Hangers means no nails and easy removal if you need to move a frame.  

Just an idea.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Grilling a Whole Chicken, Lickety-Split

It is officially summer and no one wants to be stuck in the kitchen.  I want to have delicious meals as quick as I can, preferably with hubby doing the cooking on the grill.

I've started grilling whole chickens that have been butterflied.  Grilling a chicken with bones and skin makes for much more juicy, tender meat.  Much more juicy than boneless breasts.  A butterflied chicken cooks in 35 minutes on a medium grill.

Use a scissors or sharp knife and cut alongside the backbone of the chicken.

Cut the backbone right out of the chicken.  Then open up the chicken and you will hear a crack.

You can flatten out the chicken just like this.  

Watch this video to see how really simple this is.

I patted my chicken dry and rubbed it with olive oil and then a mixture of chopped herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary), lemon zest and salt.  I massaged the herb rub into the skin.  I placed the chicken skin side down on a medium grill for 15 minutes and then turned the chicken over and cooked it about 20 minutes more or until the juices ran clear.  Then the chicken can be cut into pieces easily at the joints and served.  

Here is a link to a Bobby Flay recipe and video.  

Happy grilling and happy eating.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Monday

                                                              Source: via Sarah on Pinterest

After a crazy weekend of travel and celebration it is nice to be back home and experience a bit of a mundane Monday.

Happy Monday everyone.  Hope you had a splendid weekend.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Weekend Away

Happy Weekend
I'm taking a little trip to the east coast to visit family.

I'll spend some time in Princeton, NJ.  

Then on to Philadelphia and a birthday dinner for hubby.

I think there will be time for a cheese steak "with" at Pat's.

The big event is the whole family celebrating my parents' 80th birthdays at a Phillie's game.  They are big fans and we have rented a box to really enjoy the game in air conditioning style.

Have a fun weekend.  See you on Monday

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Suggestion: A Town Like Alice

My friend, Sue, recommend A Town Like Alice since she knew I had just been to Australia.  She had just read the book and thought it was a great read.  I agree and want to share it with you.  

The author also wrote, On the Beach which was made into a movie.  

Jean Paget is a young English girl working in Malaya on a rubber plantations when the Japanese invade and capture the people on the plantation.  The men are sent to prison camps and the women are forced to march for months from place to place.  Along the way, many of the weak succumb to disease and die.  Jean, who speaks the language of the Malayan people, becomes the translator for the group as well as their level headed leader.  After months of marching, the group encounters some Australian men being held prisoners by the Japanese.  Several of the Australian men, attempt to aid the women.  Jean becomes friendly with one man in particular.  

When the war is ended, Jean returns to England and tries to reintegrate into life in England.  She learns that she has inherited quite a sum of money from an all but forgotten uncle.  She decides to return to Malaya to build a well in a town where the people were good to her and the women with whom she was made to march.  In that town, the women had to walk a mile to get fresh water.  Jean knew that a well would make their life much easier.  It was during the building of the well that Jean learned that her Australian male friend had survived the war and returned to Australia.  Jean decides to use her inheritance and travel to Australia to see her friend.  At that same time, he was looking for Jean in England.  

Yes, they do reunite in Australia.  While Jean is waiting for him to return from England, she visits the Town of Alice(Springs)  This is a bustling town in the middle of the continent and essentially the dessert.  Jean goes on to meet her friend, Joe at his cattle station.  This location was desolate and no place for a woman however, Jean and Joe rekindle their friendship which leads to love and marriage.  Jean is a very strong woman and decides she can make the nearby town into...a town like Alice.  Jean uses her entrepreneurial talents and her inheritance to accomplish her goals.  This is a truly amazing part of the novel.  

The book is narrated by Noel Strachan, the solicitor who is one of the trustees of Jean's inheritance.  He is kept apprised of Jean's plans and releases money and advises her on her endeavors. 

This is a book full of adventure, history, romance and a very strong female character.  The book has been a popular book club selection and was adapted into a movie in 1956 and a television miniseries in 1981.   

If you enjoy historical novels, or anything about Australia or a strong, heroic female character, I highly suggest reading A Town Like Alice.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Natural "Beachy" Decor

Although I am landlocked, in the (almost) middle of the continental United States, I still like to imagine being on a beach.  In summer, I use my collections of beach treasures from my Bahamas home to get that beachy feel in Michigan.  I found some inspiring ideas to share.

I love the idea of beach grass in a glass vessel with sand and shells.  Makes it feel like a terrarium.

Sand, shells and woven mats.

Larges sea sponges on the wall for texture along with other nautical inspiration.  Love that huge shell for a basin.

Collections of shells looking so effortless.

Some sea sponges I collected in a glass cylinder next to the tub. 

A few beach treasures on a silver platter.

What's your summer decor theme?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New-Style Caesar Salad

This new-style Caesar features kale instead of romaine and adds a bit of mint as well.

The dressing is spectacular and it makes quite a bit.  I used it on a kale salad, on romaine with grilled fish and on swiss chard.  There is enough for at least two more salads.  The dressing will keep for one week in the refrigerator.  

Using kale in the new-style recipe is a nice change from romaine.  The tender, young kale at Farmer's Markets right now is perfect for salads.  It is a bit more rustic than the classic Caesar.  Hubby and I really like Caesar with grilled chicken, a steak or fish and the kale salad is a subtly nice change.  

Here is the recipe for the dressing:

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and the zest of 2-3 lemons
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 anchovy, chopped fine
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
about 2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup neutral oil such as canola, or safflower
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, anchovy, mustard, egg yolk, chili flakes, and cheese in the bowl of a food processor. Process until homogeneous, about 10 seconds. With processor running, slowly drizzle neutral oil through feed tube, stopping the processor to scrape down sides as necessary until a smooth emulsion is formed, about 20 seconds.

Transfer to a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Click here to view the entire recipe.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Musings

Happy Monday everyone.

I hope your weekend was filled with fireworks and fun.  We had a fireworks display Saturday night, visible from our deck.  
I'm particularly excited to have discovered a fireworks setting on my camera.  

With the camera mounted on a tripod, I was able to get some pretty decent photos.  

The flowers on the deck are blooming like mad.  I love the purple color. 

I ordered this cute pink tote from southmoonunder for just $45.  
Has a zipper pocket and cell phone patch pocket.

I'm busy making jewelry this week and filling Etsy orders.  How about you?

Have a great week.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Third Blog-iversary and Most Popular Posts

Wow!  Spiral Style has been around for three years.  I want to thank you all for stopping by, following, commenting and giving me support.  I thoroughly enjoy preparing posts.  It keeps me current on what is new, makes me work on photography skills, and helps me develop computer skills.  The best part is when I read comments and you tell me what you like.  It's funny, posts that I think are clever or informative, sometimes fall flat but others that I do spur of the moment are sometimes very well received.  I thought you may like to see the five all-time most viewed posts...starting with number 5.

5th most popular post

4th most popular post

3rd most popular post

2nd most popular post

and the most popular post...
I was in a J Crew store today and saw this bag on a table.  It is still available!

Happy Weekend.  See you on Monday with the start of year four!
Happy Father's Day too.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Captivating Mini Colored Pencils

If a $5.99 purchase can be considered an impulse buy, then I am guilty.  I was walking through Target and spotted a display of art supplies for kids, perfect for summer projects now that school is finished.  I was particularly drawn to these colored pencils.  

Mini colored pencils $5.99

I love the array of hues AND the descriptive color names: carnation, dijon, iceberg, ficus, tomato, to name a few.

Pencils in a glass placed on a desk top may encourage doodling while on the phone or attending to a tedious task.

Even if you are not temped to draw with these pencils, it is fun to create color palettes.  

Colored pencils, a $5.99 (mini) pleasure!  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Strawberry Picking

When it comes to strawberries, I'm very picky.  I pick them myself.  

I find that strawberries that aren't locally grown, are not juicy or flavorful.  I will wait for the local crop and then pick the berries and use them within hours.  The berries that don't make it into shortcake, topping a bowl of cereal or on ice cream will be made into jam or frozen to use later in ice cream or in a smoothie.  

This week, instead of freezing extra berries, I roasted them.  So simple, just 20 minutes in a 375 degree F oven with your choice of sweetener and a bit of balsamic.  Roasting intensified the strawberry flavor and produced a lovely syrup .  The roasted berries and syrup are wonderful on ice cream, yogurt, hot cereal, pound cake and anything else you'd like to top.  You can view the easy recipe by clicking here.

Some berries turned a spinach salad into a real treat.  The salad also featured bleu cheese, avocado and a balsamic dressing.

How do you like your strawberries?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Saress: The Sarong Dress

Need a beach coverup?  Have you seen the Saress?  

Hubby saw this in the gift shop at the hospital (of all places)!  He brought it home sort of as a joke but thinking I may use it.  It was probably the brainstorm of the same guy who thought up  pajama jeans.  

Actually I do use the Saress.  Our community pool is just a few houses away but I want some sort of coverup to get there.  I just slip this on and go.  It takes up no space at all in my beach bag and dries in minutes.  At our house in the Bahamas, I slip it on if someone comes to the house and I want a little something more than my bathing suit, which is my usual daily attire.  

So if your put your Snuggie away for the winter, maybe you'd like a Saress.  
Would you wear one of these?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sugar Snap Pea Inspired

Happy Monday
I hope you had a restful weekend full of all that brings you pleasure.

Our weekend was sunny and hot...just the way I like it.  I took time to read by the pool, do a few laps and chat with the neighbors.  Hubby and I went to a u-pick produce farm and picked strawberries and sugar snap peas.  

I just love the delicate tendrils on the pea plants.
Friends invited us for dinner on Saturday night and we were served a delicious feta dip for veggies.  I thought I'd try to make one for the sugar snap peas and incorporate radishes.

I loosely based my dip on this Martha Stewart recipe.  In a mini prep food processor, I chopped about 3 tablespoon of fresh parsley and 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano.  I added about 4 oz of crumbled feta cheese, 3 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and processed until almost smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  
You may wish to add chopped radishes, minced garlic or sliced green onion.  

This is a refreshingly healthy dip for veggies or a nice spread for a sandwich.  I spread some on some deli roast beef, rolled it up, and had a nice little snack.  
Get creative and let me know what works for you.


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