Thursday, June 27, 2013

South Of The Border

 "Oh, Mexico
It sounds so sweet with the sun sinking low

Moon's so bright like to light up the night

I guess I'll have to go now"
~James Taylor

If you don't hear from me in the next 4 days,
it's because I had to go to Mexico!


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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"A Bird In The G"

 My granddaughters are quite intrigued with my bird's nest collection.

I think they think Grandma is a little weird, especially since I have a petrified bird in one of them.
I know, it is weird!

So imagine their excitement when they "took" me to HomeGoods to show me a nest that they discovered earlier.
"Grandma, there is a bird in the tree!"
 "I don't see any trees, we're in a parking lot," I said.

"No, a bird in the G, Grandma!"
Sure enough, there it was, a huge bird in the G!
The girls wanted me to have that bird's nest, but I'm not sure how much HomeGoods will charge for it!
You just never know what you're going to find at HomeGoods!

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Siesta Time

 The first weekend of summer in Asti found my girlfriends and I taking shelter from the heat on one day and shelter from the rain the next day.

It forced us to take a little siesta!

Usually, when we are in the country, all we want to do is be outside.
Sometimes it's nice to have an excuse to sit in the living room and read a book.

And enjoy the outside from within.

 Maybe even have an afternoon cocktail.

Or even a big tall glass of iced tea.

 Yes, it's siesta time when temperatures reach 100 degrees!

 That's when the living room welcomes with its cool temp and comfy sofas.

Wishing you all a wonderful first week of summer!

Joining Kim at Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesday.
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Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice And "My Favorite Room"

 Happy Summer Solstice!
 You can find me celebrating the first day of summer as a guest blogger over at Savvy Southern Style today for Kim's Friday feature, "My Favorite Room."

Can you guess yet which room in our house is my favorite?

Head over to Savvy Southern Style and find out!

Then come back and tell me what you think!
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Our Little Kitchen Potager

Just outside the kitchen door in Asti, is our raised bed kitchen garden, or potager as they call it in France.
Every year we plant tomatoes, zucchini, Armenian cucumbers and herbs.
This year we started with all new soil and it really paid off because our little potager is performing like crazy!

  Mr. A loves tending the garden and experimenting with different plants.
This year, we focused mainly on heirloom tomatoes, carefully choosing a variety of different colors for our favorite summer salad, Insalata Caprese.

 I found bamboo teepees online through Gemplers to help them grow straight.
These are great and would also work well for peas, cucumbers and beans.

I love looking out the kitchen door and seeing our little raised bed potager.
I have a feeling it's going to be a bumper crop this year!
What have you planted and how does your garden grow?
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Monday, June 17, 2013

Just In Time For Summer: New Cushion Reveal

 The new outdoor cushions arrived, just in time for summer.

I purchased Sunbrella fabric through Sailrite and had a local upholsterer make the replacement cushions for the furniture.

I chose "Cilantro" green for the sitting area cushions and "Maxim Cocoa" stripe for the chaise cushions.
Fortunately, Ballard Designs featured the same fabrics, so I ordered the coordinating pillows from them.

I'm loving the new stripe fabric for the chaises.

Although I liked the original green stripe better, I'm finding the cocoa stripe goes with all the same colors that the green stripe did.  

I like how the brown stripe looks on the pool house sofas too.

The green trellis pillow is a Ballard exclusive, the red floral is indoor fabric, found at Homegoods last year.  I wish they made pretty florals like this in Sunbrella fabrics!

It's beginning to feel like summer around here!

I'm sharing this at Savvy Southern Style for "Wow Us Wednesday."
And also at French Country Cottage for "Feathered Nest Friday."
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Friday, June 14, 2013

My Tent Obsession

Our Basta Sole tent bit the dust two years ago and I'm finding myself wishing for a tent in the backyard again.
I miss the romance it brings to our backyard.
I mean, how romantic to dine under a pavilion, right?

Yes, I'm dreaming of a tent again and perusing Pinterest for tent images doesn't help.
This tent from Lonny featuring a backyard dinner party is my absolute favorite.
Where oh where did they find it?

Then there is this image from Elle (Sweden) that features a complete living room!
I love this all-white tent and could see it in my back yard.
But where oh where did they find it?
I'm wondering if there is a secret company that I don't know about that makes tents and gazebos!

We've all seen this tent a million times, but I never tire of it.
I love those green tassels and green bac a orange pots.  
This would work in my back yard too.
I actually know where to find a tent like this, but it is very expensive.

I love the idea of hanging bamboo roll-up shades for extra privacy and light control.

How cool is this?
Now do you see why I'm obsessing about a tent again?

A stripe tent is an option too.
This looks like it is made with Sunbrella's Maxim Cocoa stripe, the same stripe I just had new cushions made in.
But where oh where did this tent come from?

Z Gallerie has a black and white stripe tent that has piqued my interest.
It is reasonably priced--about twice the amount as a tent from Home Depot, Target or Orchard Supply Hardware, and much more interesting.
But, is it too interesting?
I don't want my backyard to look like the circus lives there!

So I went looking for inspiration and found a few examples of black and white stripes looking elegant and not at all circus-y.

From Pottery Barn. 
Similar black wicker furniture as mine.
Not too much black and white stripe, plus the white cushions make it cleaner and easy on the eye.

Then boom.
I found this!
Believe it or not, I'm having my cushions slipcovered in green!
And my furniture is black wicker!

The Portofino Pavilion Tent from Z Gallerie is tempting me!

"Our Portofino Pavilion, exclusive to Z Gallerie, is a great way to entertain outdoors, providing a suitable amount of shade. Large black threaded tassels are suspended from each corner. All four sides may be unzipped to expose the interior. Easy to assemble and disassemble making it a perfect temporary or permanent addition to any backyard or patio."

Can you see it here?
With solid green cushions and a zebra rug?

Obsessed with tents too?
Visit my Pinterest Board, "Pitch A Tent" for more tent ideas.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Outdoor Dining Room Inspiration

As the first day of summer approaches, I'm continuing my daydreams of warm summer days and outside living.  Here are a few of my favorite outdoor dining rooms, starting with our "under the mulberry tree in Asti" dining room from 4 years ago.
We have enjoyed many an alfresco meal here with family and friends.

One of my favorite outdoor dining rooms belongs to Penelope Bianchi in Montecito.
I love the aged, rustic table, vintage turquoise chairs and of course the gravel.
I'm wondering where the chickens are?

And here is Penelope's dining room ready for an evening meal.
Isn't it romantic?

Another oh-so-romantic dining room set under a curtained, sheltered area.
No need for Sunbrella fabrics here.  The sweet floral and lace fabrics will be just fine!

A lovely alfresco lunch is served under this romantic pergola.
I love the lantern and fireplace, ready to take this meal into the evening with light and warmth.

I love this burlap draped table and the mis-matched chairs pulled from inside for this Mediterranean style lunch.  
Outdoor dining rooms can be assembled as the need arises.

Just like this dining room set up under a tree with lightweight slipcovered wicker chairs, gathered around a linen draped table for a special garden party luncheon.
It can all be broken down and put away easily once the party is over.

How nice though to have a permanent outdoor dining room that is always party ready.
A room like this can be enjoyed almost all year in parts of the country, and with heat lamps in colder climates.
I love those wicker chairs!

More wicker chair love....

...and yet more!
Love those wine stave chandeliers, the pergola and tabletop setting.

Back, full circle to our "under the mulberry tree in Asti" dining room.
The wicker chairs were sourced from Marshalls and provide a lightweight alternative to heavy teak.
The candlelight has been replaced by an outdoor, galvanized electric pendant, so now we can see our food at night!
I can't wait to dine here with family and friends this summer!

I was asked how we deal with mosquitos, which unfortunately plague us at night in the wine country.
I hate to admit it, but we spray repellent on us.
I light citronella candles too, but it is a battle to keep the bugs away.
We fight the mosquitos at night and the wasps during the day.
I guess it's the price of enjoying an alfresco meal!

For more outside dining rooms and alfresco table settings, visit my Pinterest boards, Outdoor Dining and Seating and Alfresco Tablescapes.

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