Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ranch Renovation Diary # 5

Last summer, a 70s ranchburger came into my life. I remember looking up at the old split-level, the low-slung roof barely visible, and I repressed an urge to run away. "Not much curb appeal," my Realtor said, "but you'll love the interior."
 It wasn't love at first sight. Rumor has it, the home had been built without blueprints, and over the years, it had been remodeled many times until it had become an architectural orphan--poor bones and no clear style--and it was supposedly jinxed. The house was a far cry from the gorgeous Mid-Century Modern that stood next-door.Nor did it resemble a French Country cottage, as the sales brochure had promised. 
But I saw great potential. I still do.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Foodie Friday and Everything Else

Welcome to the Foodie Friday and Everything Else party. I look forward to spending time with you all. We love the same things, hearth and home, and it's a peaceable feeling to share our recipes and ideas.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beehive Cake

In an unpredictable world, I like a touch of constancy. Maybe it's a need to control the uncontrollable, to find a peaceful place where the coffee is fresh and bread dough always rises.
Now and then, we all need a reprieve from dire weather reports and upsetting news on CNN. To find this quiet spot, all I need is a cake mix and a non-stick pan--together they are an unbeatable combination. Because if you prepare the mix,  pour it into a greased mold, and bake it at 325 degrees, you know how it will turn out (most of the time). I like the kind of predictability where, at the end of the day, you get cake.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Scottish Sausage Rolls

Winter is a little too feisty. The weather in Tennessee isn't life-threatening, but it's very Wuthering Heightsy. Before I go outside, I dress carefully, as if I'm heading into battle. Instead of armor and chain mail, I wear a red puffer jacket. My son, Bandwidth, says I look like a giant tomato, but at least I'm warm.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ranch Renovation Diary # 4

Construction has slowed on the ranch while I wait for new kitchen doors and cabinets.
But the activity will soon pick up, because another project is in the works:
A foyer makeover. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

An American Farmhouse

 To reach the farm, you must travel up a long, curved driveway. The house sits on a hill, peering down on the world like a grand old dame. The residence looks as if it might be on the historical register--but it's a custom built home.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Chilly Scenes of Winter

This morning, when I looked out the window, I did a double-take--snow had fallen in the night, maybe two inches. The farm looked white and clean and beguiling. I remembered my New Year's resolution, to see the beauty in winter, but I couldn't budge. I was all cozy by the fire, surrounded by sleeping Yorkies. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Foodie Friday and Everything Else Link Party

Welcome to the Foodie Friday and Everything Else party.
I'm so glad you're here. Pull up a chair, grab a fork, and sample my No-Bake Oreo Chocolate Tart.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

No-Bake Oreo Chocolate Tart

Chocolate is a marvelous thing. It has prevented many hissy fits and was even used in wars. They say that Napoleon used chocolate as a pick-me-up before he went into a battle. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it cures the blues and mends broken hearts.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

50 Shades of Red

If January had a color, it would be dishwater gray. But February would be fifty shades of red.
Cherries, pomegranates, rhubarb, paprika, maroon, flushed cheeks, fire engines, burgundy fingernail polish, ladybugs.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Explorer's Retreat

 After we bought the ranch house, a crusty, old gardener pulled us aside.
"You know the history of this place?" he asked.
The split-level had been built in the early 70s, and I couldn't imagine what sort of history it had accumulated. Had a tornado ripped up a tree? Did the kitchen have Bad Appliance Karma?

"It's a house of divorce," the man said. "Everyone who lives here splits up." To drive home the point, he drew a finger across his throat.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

House Tour: Dorset Manor

This Sunday, we're headed to England's West Country, to a manor in Dorset. I was instantly charmed by the elegant foyer, with its stone floor, cane-filled basket, and the boots (of course).
Farmhouse Hall by South West Interior Designers & Decorators Sims Hilditch

According to the interior designer, Emma Sims-Hilditch, the house is:
". . . a Grade II Listed Manor House in the heart of the rolling Dorset countryside. Our aim was to preserve the patina of the past, whilst seamlessly mixing in a modern aesthetic to create a more comfortable and elegant family home. With the house dating back to 1200, we wanted to celebrate the traditional interior whilst providing an open, light living area with the introduction of a contemporary glazed garden room and kitchen "
-- Emma Sims Hilditch, Interior Designer

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Winter Survival Notes

I always feel like I'm falling behind, but my mother, bless her, 
pointed out that I've had a productive January.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Foodie Friday and Everything Else Link Party

 It's time for Foodie Friday--so glad you're here!
I knew you were coming, so I made a cake. Grab a plate and a fork.
Get ready to party.

Mimi's Apricot-Lemon Pound Cake

My grandmother believed that cake mixes were a cook's best friend.
Mimi grew up in rural Mississippi, and she spent her girlhood sifting flour, then carefully spooning it into a cup and running a knife over the top. Baking soda was kept in a tin box, and it was measured with the same reverence and precision. Mimi had lived through epidemics, two World Wars, and sugar rationing. Once, a tornado lifted her mama's farmhouse of the foundation and whisked it away. "To Oz," her sisters said.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Downton Abbey Inspired Centerpiece

Somewhere across the pond, Edwardian England exists in a magnificent time warp, 
one that is created every Sunday evening by Downton Abbey, 
Julian Fellowes's hit drama series on PBS.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Five Easy One-Pot Winter Meals

Five Easy One-Pot Winter Meals

Winter isn't my favorite season. In my neck of the woods, January is cold, dark, and grim. Just last week, the temperature hovered around zero, prompting me to check the gauge on the propane tank every morning. But the horrid weather gives me an excuse to sit next to a crackling fire and read about the Wars of the Roses.  As the British say, I'm getting ready to "move house," so I've been packing dishes and books, and I can't spend hours in the kitchen (which I normally love to do every January). At the end of the day, I crave a warm, comforting supper, one that preferably cooks itself.  The answer is a one-pot meal. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A 16th Century Cottage in France

This Sunday, we're headed to Versailles, France, to tour a 16th century stone cottage. Located in the luxurious region of Ile-de-France, the home is only a few miles from the heart of Paris, but it seems a world away.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ranch Renovation Diary # 3

The home remodeling process reminds me of a turtle. 
This slow-moving critter has a hard shell on her back, and if she gets frightened, or just needs to think, she can retreat, safe and snug, hidden from the scary world. She can spend renovation dollars in her mind. However, there's a downside: self-preservation can cause delays. The turtle might tuck herself inside the shell and have a pity party. Worse, she might try to make up for lost time, moving uncharacteristically fast, and the reckless speed could result in unwise decisions and more setbacks.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Foodie Friday and Everything Else Link Party -- January 9, 2015

 Welcome to Foodie Friday, where great food is always on the menu. 
Can't wait to see what you brought to the party! 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Monday, January 5, 2015

Winter Salad with Honey-Orange Vinaigrette

My mother gave me a wonderful case of fruit for Christmas. When I opened it, a fresh, citrus smell wafted through the room. Tucked inside the box were all kinds of goodies: tangerines, oranges, grapefruit, nuts, chocolate-orange squares and orange blossom honey.
"Put a little sunshine in your diet," Mama said.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tour an Enchanted Cottage

It's a home with a pedigree and a touch of magic. 
Twenty-four years ago, actress Jami Gertz hired Kerry Joyce to build a house on Lime Orchard Road in Beverly Hills. It had 5 bedrooms, 5-1/2 baths, and 5,500 square feet--large but possessing the heart and soul of a cottage. Sitting on .31 narrow acres, the property is almost hidden by walls, trees, and gates--the perfect retreat from the high octane world of L.A. The appeal is so potent that when Jessica Simpson listed the home, photos of the grounds and interiors exploded all over the Internet, and the property became a celebrity in its own right. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Renovation Diary # 2: The Ranchburger's Kitchen

Ever since a Ranchburger came into my life, I've wondered how to enhance its most striking feature: the view. I also wanted to brighten the rooms, especially the kitchen.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Foodie Friday and Everything Else Link Party--January 1, 2015

Welcome to our first party of 2015--and welcome to Foodie Friday (and the Everything Else party).
I haven't seen you since last year! :-) Can't wait to see what you are sharing!
Earlier this week, we toured two "Bespoke" kitchens, then I looked back at the blog in Farmhouse Seasons: A Review of 2014. On New Year's Eve, I shared my new word for the year: TRY.