Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday Tip

Tips on how to clean your goddess...or other stained marble.

In the spring, I did a post on busts with the intention of showing you mine and promptly forgot until now!
The owner from a favorite shop holding the bust for me to view all sides.
 Even though he said he had already vacuumed and wiped her down, she was still such a dirty girl!

This is how she looked in the shop after being outfitted with her new iron stand. The original marble pedestal
that surely once held her form was not found when she discovered in the celler of an estate in Europe by the shop owner. I actually didn't mind her sepia patina, but felt I needed to try and capture her original appearance.

I honestly didn't have a plan on where/how to start and just plunged in with what seemed reasonable and safe. Which ended up being mild dish detergent, baking soda, and lots of scubbing with soft tooth brushes and soft rags.
Though my cleaning method was working, I panicked halfway through and searched google for tips!
 It seemed this was okay. I also read suggestions to use hydrogen peroxide and chalk.
The hydo seemed to work a bit, the chalk was useless!

Add equal parts time and patience. And voila!
When the sunlight comes into the room in the morning, she glows!
 There is still some staining and discolorations, which doesn't bother me at all.
 Based on their location, I suspect she may have resided outdoors at some point.
She needs a proper name, but in the meantime I'll keep referring to her as the goddess.

Dear readers, if any of you have additional tips on cleaning marble, please share them!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Citrus Is Sensational For Summer!

How would you like a recipe for the best dessert you'll have all summer? One that is impressive enough for company, but easy enough to whip up just because you're in the mood for something cold, creamy, with a little crunch and full of wonderful citrus flavor? Yes? I thought so!

I acquired this recipe from a caterer that I had the pleasure of working with in Williamsburg, Virgina about 8 years ago. We met by accident (it's a long story, so I'll provide the ultra condensed version) and when she found out I loved hosting parties and was passionate about design, she made a proposition I could not resist. 
Secrets to a great tart!
She was catering a bridal luncheon for the daughter of her client and asked if I thought I could I do the table setting, handle the flowers, and favors? I said yes and she arranged for me to meet her at the residence a few days later-basically to asses my abilities! The housekeeper, of the stunning big old house, led us to the butler's pantry. It was a large butler's pantry with more dishes than I had ever seen outside a store setting. It was spectacularly beautiful and simultaneously utilitarian and the image is still etched in my mind. I perused the options of dishes, linens, crystal and silver and took advantage of the abundant assortment of hydrangea and roses from the expansive garden, then spent the next few hours completing my "interview" for the job.

Catherine and I worked on 2 more parties together for this client and a few others before I moved. I learned so much from her and this recipe is one example. It was love at first bite! And, the fact it can be made ahead-a caterer's secret weapon as well as that of any busy hostess and a working person's saving grace, just added to the perfection. It's been a favorite of the A&A house since I first made it for my family and my son always requests it for his birthday instead of cake. Until now, I have never shared this recipe with even my closet friends. But since blogging and blog friends have been such a treat, I thought this was the perfect way to say thanks for reading and participating in our on-going conversations...especially when my blogging has been so erratic this year!
 I generally use a square tart pan and cut approximately 3x3 slices and often there are requests for another piece!
So if you're serving a crowd or want leftovers, make extra tarts. If you don't have a whip cream dispenser with decorative tips, a big dollop of fresh cream is just fine.

Citrus Tart
2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies (use a brand that you like to eat)
6 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter
3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup frozen (no pulp) orange juice concentrate, thawed but icy/cold
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (do not use bottled)
2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (optional-I usually omit this)
2 large eggs separated

Stir together the first 4 ingredients and press the mixture with your fingers into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch tart pan (it doesn't matter if it's square or round) with a removable bottom. Next, whisk together the condensed milk, OJ, lemon juice and yokes of the eggs together until just blended Then, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until stiff. Fold the eggs whites into the juice/milk mixture then pour the filling into the tart (crust) pan. Bake at 325 degrees until filling is set-about 25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack then cover with wax paper and chill overnight. Remove bottom of tart pan and form and place on a serving dish. Garnish with fresh (only) whip cream, citrus and mint. ENJOY!!! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday Tip

Peace + love and beyond the expiration date = happiness + savings!
I took this picture from the top of a Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon I tore out of a page
 of  my fall 2011 Traditional Home magazine!
In case you didn't know, the retailer Bed, Bath and Beyond accepts expired coupons! I'm not kidding. I discovered this by accident about 2 years ago (forgive me for not sharing it until now) when I was buying all the stuff my oldest needed for his first year of college. When I went to pay, I pulled out my coupons and realized they were expired.  The clerk, a sweet elderly gentleman, informed me they take them even if they're past the expiration. You can bet that ever since that shopping trip, I've never set foot inside their doors without several coupons in hand. Especially, since it's one of those stores you might pop into for a few tea lights and walk out with 3 other items you didn't even know you needed! 

Saving for my next visit!

You may be interested to know that world renowned interior designer, Bunny Williams, mentions in her latest book, Scrapbook For Living she finds shopping the storage container isle of retailers like Bed, Bath and Beyond "almost as thrilling as exploring a fabulous antiques shop." I enjoyed reading this little tid-bit and it fascinated me to know there are people like me who are obsessively organized, but love all things old and historic. Somehow though, I can't imagine her using a coupon!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Reader Poll: Bedrooms, Bathrooms & Closets-How Big Is Big Enough?

When it comes to the master suite, I think most people fantasize about having it all: space, privacy and organization. But the real question is how much of each do we really need? Or perhaps after these 100+ degree temperatures and power outages, maybe you just want a small swimming pool in lieu of a bed or tub!? I thought it would be fun (and quite helpful for anyone who is considering a renovation) to break it down by each component.

The Master Bedroom: Do you want just enough room for the bed, bedsides table and lamps? Or do you want space for a chest, dresser or desk? What about a television-I know, so taboo in the design world, but I have to ask, so be honest? Or do you want a larger room that could accommodate seating, a fireplace, or bookshelves?
Simple elegance-Alessandra Branca
The Master Bathroom: Assuming it's an en-suite arrangement, do you wish yours was bigger or just more luxurious? In this case, luxurious is defined by the quality of materials. Do you want a great big shower with a seat, jets or a rain head? People are much more willing to give up a bathtub for a bigger shower these days-would you? If so, do you worry that it may would impact the resale value of your home? Do you require/wish the toilet to be in it's own room?  Do you prefer separate sink consoles or one long run with 2 sinks? A linen closet? Is a seated make-up area desirable? What about a television? Heated floors and towels bars? Or do you really want to separate spousal/partner baths with maybe only a shared bath tub and shower? The latter becoming a fantasy for many!

Classic- David Flynn
The Master Closet: Do you fantasize about a walk-in? Or would a well organized reach-in closet make you just as happy? If you share a closet, do you wish you didn't? Do you want a place to sit in your closet to put your shoes on or ponder the day's outfit? Do you like to see your clothes or prefer them hidden behind doors? Do you want a counter, table, or storage island to fold clothes and pack for trips? A window? Is this the ideal location to store the iron and ironing board or is that still the laundry room?
Serious luxury-designer unknown
The stuff that dreams are made of-mine anyway! 

Based on the above questions, if you were to design the master suite of your dreams or had the opportunity to change your current master suite, would you opt for:

1.) A bigger bedroom, bathroom or closet and why?
2.) What amenities in each category would you incorporate into your dream spaces?

I can not wait to hear your opinions and if I've left something out on your must have/or wish list tell me!