Design Crush: Dine-In Libraries

June 20th, 2013

I have a crush on built-in bookcases in all rooms, home offices of course, living rooms, family rooms, and bedrooms too. Another place I love to see bookcases is situated in formal dining rooms (and decorated with actual books!) so that the space possesses a library-esque feel. 

The dine-in library holds practical appeal as well – it’s a place where books and collectibles are on display and where meals are also enjoyed. Feed the mind and the stomach at the same time! Mix in pottery, dishes, books, collectibles, and artwork and how cozy a dining room becomes when a wall (or two) is dedicated to display. The large table and chairs in the middle makes the space a place for a transitional home office as well.

My sister in law homeschools her younger kids and uses their formal dining room as the schoolroom during the day. The upper shelves on the hutch store dishes, art, and collectibles, and the hidden storage below houses the schooling materials. The room quickly transforms into an elegant space for formal meals, so it multitasks in the best way possible.

I can’t achieve the look in my own home with a dining room situated in an open space, but I’ve made a mental note of the look for any future homes or spaces. Today I thought I’d share a few favorite dine-in library looks, from fresh and bright to dark and dramatic and everything in between. Notice how the bookcases add an air of sophistication and the mix of all styles, contemporary and traditional.

dining room bookshelves

Diana Bergeron

 

library dining room klikk

Klikk

   white bookshelves in dining room

via Casa Sugar

 

built in library

El Mueble

  

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(The Best) Mixed Berry Preserves

June 19th, 2013

Grandma Verna would make mixed berry preserves every summer and Matt (her grandson, my husband) would speak of them fondly and often – they were one of his most favorite things about visiting Grandma Verna and Grandpa Bill’s ranch when he was a boy. Grandma Verna always kept big jars of summer berry jam in the fridge and Matt was crazy about them.

After we were married, I asked Grandma Verna for the recipe and she told me there really was no recipe it was only this: “Clean up a bunch of fresh berries, throw in some sugar and pectin, boil it up in a pot and put it in a jar”.  Boom, simple, done.

About six years ago I started making a version of this, and it’s a family favorite. (I originally wrote about this recipe four years ago, but sadly the pictures went “poof!” so I recreated it for y’all again.) These mixed berry preserves are a simple concoction that yields the very best mixed berry preserves I’ve ever tasted, and validates that age old culinary philosophy, “simple is best!”

I start with Verna’s “recipe” but add some citrus zest, and then can it so we can enjoy it in the coldest winter months. This recipe and assembly are so simple, you can’t mess it up, you can’t!  It’s much lower in sugar so that the fruit really steals the show.

simple mixed berry preserves

 

Ingredients:

6 baskets of strawberries (6 oz. each)

6 baskets of raspberries (4 oz each)

6 baskets of blackberries (4 oz each)

Juice from 2 lemons

Zest from 1 large orange

2 cups sugar

Low or No sugar Pectin

8 wide mouth 16 ounce canning jars + lids

First, start with good fruit. Find it at your local grocery store, or at the farmer’s market but get a bunch of seasonal berries that are perfectly ripe and you’re in business. You can mix in other berries too, whatever you like, go crazy, add blueberries or boysenberries or Logan berries, etc.

mixed berries

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