Posts Tagged ‘contributing writer’

How To Brunch with Simplicity and Style

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Ah, brunch.  Truly, nothing brings to mind relaxation on a weekend morning more than the thought of a leisurely brunch with friends.  If I’m ever on vacation on a Sunday, one question I always ask is “Where should we head for brunch in this town?”   Even at home, and especially at Easter, one of my favorite things to do in the spring and summer is host a brunch. 

Today, Courtney Lake is back for his monthly contribution on the topic of how to stage a simple and stylish brunch for your friends and family.  

Please welcome Courtney on the subject of How To Brunch in Style!

“Summer is the season of alfresco dining.  Simple, easy and care free meals with friends and family at a leisurely pace are one of the season’s little perks.  I can’t imagine a meal better suited for this type of entertaining than brunch -  that wonderful combination of breakfast and lunch.  Brunch is the perfect opportunity to break out of your formal entertaining rut!  Here are a few quick and simple steps to creating an effortless brunch for six on a budget.

MENU PLANNING

Look at the people coming to your brunch and ask yourself a few important questions.  What time does the brunch start ?   The general rule is the later the brunch, the hardier the menu.  Do any of your guests have dietary restrictions?  Food allergies, low-sodium and gluten-free diets are becoming more prevalent, so think about dishes that can hit multiple categories. 

How much food should you prepare?  I go by the rule of having two additional servings for each dish. Since the number I typically expect for brunch is six, I plan that the dishes should feed eight.  It guarantees that those bigger eaters in the group will have plenty, and also that you will not be stuck with a fridge full of leftovers.

When I serve brunch at my own home, I love using this menu for its ease and ability to please a variety of palates:

1) Baked Eggs with Tomato Compote:  So simple and versatile, this dish has earned an honored spot on my brunch menu. It can be morphed into any number of variations but I found this particular version is especially tasty.  Add crumbled feta if you like an extra layer of cheese.

Graphic 1 - baked eggs

Recipe here.

 

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Modern Trends in Lighting

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Many of you know Michelle of Ten June is a monthly contributor here, and today she’s back talking about a subject that I adore, trends in modern lighting.  I am such a fan of so many of the modern fixtures we’re seeing today, some of them throwbacks that are definitely channeling a retro vibe, others showcasing natural textures in new ways, and better still, new designs in fabulous shapes that become a focal point in a space. 

Please welcome back Michelle and her fantastic insight on modern trends in lighting:

“Truly well designed rooms are always always accentuated with good lighting.  The lighting in any space holds the power to illuminate and define all of the other elements in the room, as well as set the proper mood.

While lighting is important, it doesn’t have to be taken so seriously that the fixtures are simply functional and therefore boring.  A modern trend in home decor is incorporating the use of fun, make-a-statement fixtures that bring a punch of style, whimsy, or even humor to a room.  Whether you are searching for a table lamp, a floor lamp, or a chandelier, different styles of modern lighting are that last final detail not to be forgotten, and today, our choices in fabulous fixtures are endless!

One of my favorite trends in modern lighting is the vintage, industrial chic look. Modeled from factory furnishings and rusty, exposed materials, industrial lighting reflects a bare, repurposed and utilitarian design.  Oh, and perhaps you’ve noticed, industrial lighting is all the rage!

modern lighting 3

industrial task lamps, Pottery Barn; vintage inspired industrial pendant, Thomas O’Brien; bare bulb pendant, West Elm; exposed wire table lamp, West Elm; studio floor light, Restoration Hardware

 

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Secrets of a Successful Terrarium

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

One of the nice things about contributors is how much they teach and inspire me.  This month, Courtney is back and he is talking about his personal experience with a project I’ve long wanted to try: a terrarium! 

Placing anything organic under glass is a hot trend right now.  We’re seeing these mini ecosystems pop up everywhere in design, and more and more terrarium vessels available at stylish retailers.  They were big in the 1970’s and now they’re back!

james modern bespoke terrariumI learned with a little research yesterday that the art of a successful terrarium is not a new discovery by any means.

The history of the terrarium dates back to the 19th Century, and grew in popularity in the Victorian Era in England.  Their origination is credited to surgeon and gardening enthusiast Dr. Nathanial Ward. 

An amateur botanist, Ward was conducting an experiment on protecting plants from the polluted London air, and observed how certain plants could thrive and be kept healthy under glass. 

An added bonus to his 1827 discovery was that horticulturists could use glass vessels to protect tropical plant species in ‘Wardian cases’ from sea air on long voyages returning by ship to their homeland. 

I am fascinated by these ‘Wardian cases’ which we now call terrariums, and so is Courtney.  He recently attempted to create one himself, and learned a few things in the process.  

Please welcome back Courtney Lake on the topic of successful terrariums!

“Terrariums are the flora equivalent of a ship in a bottle in my opinion. They are beautiful living sculptures that can serve a multitude of purposes from table centerpiece to anchoring a mantel vignette. The terrariums of today are not the ones we crafted for school science fairs.  Modern terrariums combine form, texture and color to create living works of art.

Yet for many, including myself, creating a successful environment can be intimidating.  Every time I see one, I think to myself “How did they do that?”  It amazes me that people have mastered the art of how to create what are essentially miniature gardens within the confines of a glass vessel.

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