Wednesday, July 22, 2009

{rustic} summer entertaining

With my oldest starting kindergarten in little over a month, summer's days are numbered. I want to enjoy the remaining time we have, and stay on the entertaining kick we've been on lately.

To me, the fun of entertaining buffet style {the only way we entertain at this point} is the way everything looks. Of course the food's gotta be good too. I like:

- an old linen sheet thrown over the table for a tablecloth. I've also used shower curtains that are really cute
- aluminum buckets and tins for cold drinks
- old ironstone or tarnished silver creamers for silverware {if you're concerned about the silverware touching the inside of the creamer, flop a little vintage lace out of it} I've also used small, old crystal vases with some vintage linen draped out of it, then the silverware, so cute.
- tiers of cake plates for fruit and maybe hors d'oeuvres
- rustic wire bread baskets lined with flour sack towels
- vintage ironstone or creamware plates with cheese on them
- a rustic wood cutting board with several wheels of cheese on it
- a variety of mismatched vintage silverplate serving utensils
- figs stacked on anything with a pedestal
- sangria served out of a huge glass canister with a ladle
- ice water with fruit floating in a cut glass pitcher
- everything labeled with brown paper tags tied on with jute twine
- monogrammed paper cocktail napkins from the party store or JoAnn's

My very favorite, tried-and-true, in-a-pinch {or not} dessert recipe that has brought rave reviews from everyone is my mother's cherry dessert recipe, also known as dump cake. If you are not familiar with this phenomenon, let me clue you in. You will never, ever regret making this, eating this, sharing this. No matter the occasion. This is not my photo, but mine looks very similar to this... {recipe below}

{Claudette's Cherry Dump Cake}

3 cans Comstock Cherry Pie Filling
1 box yellow cake mix
butter to taste
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Dump the pie filling in a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle the entire dry box of cake mix on top. Yes, dry. Now, melt about 4 tablespoons of butter, maybe more and drizzle on top. You might need as much as a 1/4 cup. Now sprinkle on the nuts. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Voila! Rustic, delicious, amazing. Bake it in a cool rustic white baking dish and serve it just like that with a vintage spoon. My friends and family request it over and over and over. Every BBQ I go to they ask me to bring it. It can also be made with canned peaches, but that's another post.

I am so inspired to entertain in a casual, rustic, french inspired way, and the following images make it clear why this kind of entertaining is so appealing {especially since I have none of my own today}

This is my kind of entertaining. Put everything in a basket, a tin, or on a cake plate, mass it all together on a great crusty table, and let the guests have at it. Don't forget the mini chalkboard to write the menu or a message.


Love the haphazard french chic of this image. And the champagne in the garden urn is very cool. Love the crooked lampshade.

Love the rustic aluminum bin for beer and jam jar with label.

This is a repeat image for me, but isn't it worth it? It's the epitome of rustic french entertaining.

Do I spy a burlap buffet? Yeah baby!

Love the double decker cutting boards and breadsticks in glasses.

This was for a wedding, but how fun would it be to recreate it for a party? Looks pretty easy to me.

Speaking of weddings, did you see the pictures of Magnolia Pearl's rustic wedding? They are so amazing and inspiring. Here are a few. Go here for more.

Of course, the prettiest wedding buffet, or any buffet for that matter, that I've ever seen was Elizabeth Maxson's. Images from Curious Sofa

Can you get any more inspired than this? Don't you love the baby bathtub filled with bottled water? And the chair with an ironstone serving dish on it? And breadsticks sticking out of old pitchers? I could go on and on and there were a bazillion amazing photos, but I won't. Of course this was for a more formal event, but there are so many great ideas here that could translate to your casual summer {or fall/winter} entertaining.

How are you entertaining this summer?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Have I ever shared with you how I sometimes fantasize about packing the kids in the car and driving 8 hours to Disneyland? Not to see their precious little faces beam with joy at the rides, the characters, the magnitude of it all. Oh, no. That would be way too easy. It's because I KNOW THEY MAKE SILHOUETTES THERE.

Yes, I am admitting my shallowness, here in public, on my blog. It's my blog, I can do that. You see I am *dying* to get my kids silhouettes done. And I know some really crafty bloggers have done it themselves, but I am pretty unwieldy with scissors {ask my daughter and how Mommy needed 3 sheets of paper to cut out one lousy heart yesterday} and me and photo programs don't mix. I need professional help.

Well with all my obsessive compulsive monogram and family name sign searching on etsy, I stumbled upon something fantastic. Check it out -- you send these people your child's profile picture in a jpeg and they custom paint you a plaque, with your child's name, in your choice of colors, and ribbon, for a measly $25. Tell me this is not the cutest.thing.ever.

Maybe I am not rational since my little fantasy trip to the happiest place on earth would involve hotel rooms and whatnot, but $50 for two kids silhouettes on keepsake plaques seems pretty reasonable to me.

Check out all the color options. The example above is of course darling and would match Neva's room perfectly, but I think I would go more neutral so you could also use them elsewhere in your home. Maybe a cake batter plaque with an espresso silhouette and a golden ribbon? Or an espresso plaque and cake batter silhouette and ribbon? I don't know... the choices are endless. And you all know how i am with choices {still struggling over monogram choices for that pillow, girls!} Anyways, just thought it was too cute not to share. Find it here.

OK, just found this one and it's also pretty cute. Just $20 and found here.

That's it. This is the best ever. A silhouette + a monogram? Stop it. Oh yeah, $45? OK, I will stop it. But it comes framed. And it's a lot cheaper than a hotel room with Mickey Mouse carpet. Found here.

I'm sorry, I just can't stop. If you're into plates like I am, this would be such a great option. Imagine this mixed into a family portrait wall. But at $49 per plate, let's hope it doesn't fall and break. Found here.

OK, I'm done obsessing now. Good nite!

birds of a feather v. 4.0

A tres magnifique french boudoir done on a budget over at Parisienne Farmgirl {love that name!}

Barn House:

For more fabulous pictures of Barn House's latest event, check out Mimi Charmante. I am kicking myself for not living closer to these guys. I'da {is that a word?} gone nuts at this thing! If they ever come to the Alameda Flea Market, I am there. For sure. With cashola in hand baby! I'll even skip Starbucks for a couple months to save up to buy something from them, that's how crazy I am about them.

How to whitewash brick {for amazing results} at Frugal Farmhouse.

for glorious images of coral and coral inspired items, visit French Blue

An exquisitely beautiful kitchen on Willow Decor . Love everything about it - the toile armchairs, the beadboard walls, dark floors, old signage, everything. It's perfect.

What amazingness have you seen in blogland lately?

Monday, July 20, 2009

anniversary shopping

My anniversary {7 years} is in 2 weeks and my parents are giving us cold hard cash as a present. I think it's a great present, the very best kind actually. It allows me to go virtual shopping weeks in advance and dream of what I could buy with the money. I come up with hundreds {well, not really hundreds} of combinations of things. But right now, I am focused on a few "need to have" pieces for my home. I'm not super sappy in that it has to be something of heirloom quality -- I'd rather spend the money on small purchases that will add to the overall ambiance of my home, or on things that I'd love but wouldn't necessarily buy myself. Some people might find this crazy, but my husband doesn't mind, it's practical, and it entertains me for hours on end.

First up is a nice linen barrel shade for my recent Goodwill lamp purchase, blogged about here.

What do you think? Pretty cool for $24.99 at Tarjay, yes? Find it here

Next up is a monogrammed pillow, a must. I have wanted one for eons, and I think it's something really special and very worthy of an anniversary present. I have scoured etsy, but right now my favorite pillows are on Check out what you can get for a mere $26 with a FREE monogram:

That's right -- an 18" square pillow with the insert people, and a free monogram, for just $26. And guess what? It comes in several shades of linen, and that fabric I love to hate: burlap. I may just have to break my own rule and get me a burlap pillow with a big fat monogram in chocolate brown on it. Or maybe I'll get the hemp linen. I imagine that would have that same natural, burlap-y look without the scratchy fibers and shedding. I think I can't lose either way with this.
Unless of course I get this size, for just $22... this would look really cute in a pair on matching armchairs.

Let's go over the most optimum fabric choices for the 18" size, shall we? I want something neutral that could be moved from bedroom to living room without burning your eyeballs out, and that could match any number of decor choices in the future. That means I'm getting a neutral. But which one?

Hemp Linen - luscious if I do say so

Caramel Twill - classic and would hold up well as well as match almost anything

Camel Velvet - would feel wonderful to the touch

Burlap baby - So good, yet so bad

Then again, I could do something wild and crazy {for me} like toffee check:

OK, maybe not. It might be too busy for me, not sure. I think I like the stuff above better.

Then there's the monogram options. Too many choices makes me a crazy person. I think I like
the fourth one and the last one... or maybe #13. I don't know what to pick! Want to pick for me??? I am so bad at this kind of thing... I can second guess myself for weeks on this kind of minor decision.

Lastly, something like one of these cute monogrammed signs would be really nice to have as a momento in our home, not to mention a cute piece of decor:
Just $16.00 found here

Or this huge shabby letter, $41.95 found here

Then there's this sweet family sign for just $24.95 found here

And I LOVE this with the added crown moulding for $35 found here

Then again, let's not forget the family name sign master, Susie at Bienvenue. Check out her darling signs with that added french touch, all very affordable! Find them here...

I think that both the Ballard monogrammed pillows as well as any of the family name signs from Etsy would be fabulous anniversary or wedding gifts that are custom, affordable, thoughtful, and memorable, not to mention classic. In fact, my sister's anniversary is just the day before mine, I think I'm going to get her one of the above, probably a family name sign. Now, which one? Hhhhmmmmmm....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Aidan Gray wannabe

Welcome fellow yardsale and thrift enthusiasts!

Do you lust after these lamps?

I sure do.

Can't afford the $200-600 price tag?

Neither can I.....

Meet my new $16.99 find, courtesy of the local stinky Goodwill:

I saw it and my heart skipped a beat. I had the shade, but I might treat it to a round linen number, like lamp number 1 above... LOVE. My Goodwill has been amazing lately, with it's funky little self with rude employees and smoky air and piles of trash and gangsters outside. This beauty is worth it, no?

p.s. and even sweeter, it's resting it's hiney on my $5 garage sale french round side table {painted & stained by moi... it was ugly brown when I bought it, but still}

p.p.s. for every major score I find at Goodwill, I leave 5 times empty handed. Just keepin it real so you don't think I have the best Goodwill ever. I don't. I see YOUR yardsale/thrift finds and I can't believe my eyes!

p.p.s.s. {or is it p.p.p.s.?} for more aidan gray, go here

p.p.p.p.s. or whatever - I think I need to treat mr. fauxgray to a little paint or stain to authenticate it and give it a little depth and age. ideas?