Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Creative Candlesticks

Thanksgiving day we were invited over to our friend's house for a wonderful feast. Our host, Will of William Winebrenner Interiors, LLC, set a beautiful table full of crystal, china, and of course wonderful friends. However, it was his candlesticks that truly caught my eye.

Will covered each silver candlestick with green moss, then carefully wrapped it using a fine thread. By covering his silver candlesticks, Will created a unique centerpiece that truly stood out and created a beautiful presentation.

When you are setting your table for a dinner party, take a step back from your cupboards and look at your plates, vases, and candlesticks and see what interesting combinations and presentations you can create to make a memorable meal!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Easy As Pie...

This past weekend, Brian and I decided to have an impromptu dinner party for some friends. While Brian was in charge of making the delicious dinner, I was in charge of the dessert.

I wanted to make a dessert that would be great in taste, but small in preparation; as I had little time to make it. While searching online for a fun dessert, I found this wonderful apple pie recipe that I decided to make and add something of my own to give it some flair and jazz it up. The recipe is below:

Homemade Apple Pie

Recipe for 2 - 9" Double Crust Pie Crust (I purchased my pie dough at the grocery store and simply rolled it into my pie plate and then covered it with the top piece.)

6 cups Granny Smith apple slices, peeled and cored
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg to taste
2 Tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup orange flavored dried cranberries*

Directions - How To Make an Apple Pie:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out the pie crust bottom and tops leaving enough overhang to fold underneath. Place the bottom pie crust evenly in a 9" pie pan or ceramic pie dish and set aside. Fold the top crust in half and place a towel over it so it doesn't dry out.

In a large bowl, toss the sliced apples with lemon juice. Add sugars, flour and spices if desired, mixing gently.
Fold into prepared pie crust and dot with cold butter.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbly. Place a piece of aluminum foil around the rim if the edges start to brown too fast.
Remove to cooling rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes.
Serve Apple Pie à la mode with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.
Refrigerate any leftovers.
Makes 1 double crust apple pie. Serves 8.

*For my pie, I decided to add some orange flavored dried cranberries that I purchased from Trader Joe's. It added a flavorful touch to the pie. 

The pie tasted wonderful. Although, I need some practice pinching my crust...:)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A History of the Home

I'm currently reading Bill Bryson's, "At Home: A Short History of Private Life." Bryson is best known for his work, "A Short History of Nearly Everything" and his new tome does not disappoint.

In "At Home" Bryson examines the history and development of the home over the ages by taking us on a tour of his English home and investigating the history behind each room as well as examining everyday objects such as the salt and pepper shaker and revealing the colorful past of these everyday staples.

I enjoyed Bryson's quirky sense of curiosity and the way he reveals the purpose and sometimes folly behind our living spaces.

While the text tends to be a little dry, I highly recommend reading this book yourself. Not only is it an interesting read, but it can provide many conversational topics at your next dinner party!

Purchase your copy here!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Dandy Adventure

A Dandy on the Road and in the Air

When my husband and I were getting married in September, I knew I wanted to give him a special gift that would create some memorable moments for us to cherish.

I wasn’t sure what to get him until a Groupon showed up in my e-mail for a hot air balloon ride in the Shenandoah Valley courtesy of Valley Ballooning. After selecting a November sunset flight to capture the autumn leaves, we prepared for our adventure.

It was a pleasant drive to Woodstock, VA where Don, our pilot, picked us up and drove us to the launching pad. 
balloon 097balloon 001 balloon 042   
After helping him prepare the balloon for lift off, we quickly climbed in the basket and floated off for an exhilarating trip across the countryside.

  balloon 041balloon 068balloon 049     balloon 051   balloon 083 balloon 062   
The flight was really smooth with some good winds (Don told us we were traveling at 12 miles an hour) and we enjoyed viewing all the farming fields and forests float by as we looked down from above. After a fun hour of floating in the sky, we began our descent. Now, this was the part we were nervous about.

Brian and I do not have experience extricating ourselves from a hot air balloon basket. However, we were game and had some confidence in our pilot. He maneuvered us above tree tops, power lines and the occasional roof top and settled on a piece of land no bigger than a dry pond…in fact…I think that’s what it was. So after some careful coaching, Don pulled swiftly on the main rope to let the air escape from the balloon and down we went hitting the ground at 10 miles an hour.
balloon 094balloon 096
While it wasn’t the softest of landings, we did make it to ground and freed ourselves of the balloon. It was a perfect day and one that we will not soon forget.
balloon 064 
I highly recommend Don and Valley Ballooning if you want to inject some fun adventure in your lives! I also recommend signing up for Groupon. I always receive a cool idea in my e-mail from them at a discounted rate!

Tell them the Dandy sent you!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Organized Life....Is A Good Life

My husband, Brian and I have quite a collection of shades. Whether we are wearing gray, brown or black tones...feeling fresh, swanky or sexy, we always have a great pair of sunglassses ready to go with any outfit or mood. However, having so many choices laying around begins to create a chaotic mess.
We no longer had room in our cars for our glasses and so they began to collect in our breakfast room where we were able to grab a pair quickly on our way out the door. It was very convenient, but not very aesthetically pleasing. 

My solution....
I made my way to the Container Store for an organizational cure. Not only are the staff at the Container Store phenomenal at their jobs, but I love that they get excited when presented with a new organizational challenge. Imagine my delight when the saleswoman, Julie, lit up when I told her I was looking for something to organize my sunglasses. After exclaiming, "Oh, interesting!" she proceeded to help me come up with ideas on how to tame our clutter.
Grey Document Box
I knew I wanted some sort of box to contain the chaos and we found the perfect solution with the Grey Document Box. The document box is just the right size and is tailored enough for display. 

However, I  didn't want to just throw the glasses in the box and have them slide around unhindered. So, Julie suggested a number of solutions. The winner was adding the slotted interlocking drawer organizer to the inside of the box. 
slotted interlocking drawer organizer
Once I measured and placed the dividers inside the box, it created the perfect space for all of our sunglasses!
Now, all of our glasses are hidden discreetly and conveniently away on a shelf in our breakfast room!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Bright Idea

Here's a quick tip for installing a light over the dining room table!

Small Finley Wheat Pendant Lamp
small finley wheat pendant light
My husband and I purchased this pendant light for our breakfast room. We wanted to center it over the breakfast room table to complement the circumference of the table. To hang it over the center, Brian surprised me with this bright idea to find the sweet spot on the ceiling. 

By simply placing a flashlight in the center of your table and shining the beam onto the ceiling, you have an instant idea of where your light needs to be installed.
 Once we found the spot, Brian simply (well, maybe not too simply) hung our light!
Tip: The ideal height to hang a light over a dining table is anywhere between 28" - 32" 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Crafting Consciousness

Interested in a fun and crafty outing?!

The National Museum of Natural History is currently exhibiting a crocheted coral reef. The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef is a project by the Institute For Figuring in Los Angeles and was created and curated by Margaret and Christine Wertheim as a way to focus on our dying coral reefs.

As the Smithsonian website states, "A sea of vibrant colors and fantastic structures, the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef evokes a sense of stewardship of their real-life counterparts through a whimsical and beautiful display. Atolls and clusters of crocheted corals, made of both yarn and found materials, weave their way into unique coral communities. By using particular crocheting techniques that employ hyperbolic geometry, these reefs take shape into complex, natural-looking forms."  The Smithsonian Community Reef will be on display at the National Museum of Natural History from October 16, 2010 – April 24, 2011. For more information go to the Smithsonian website. You can also contribute to the crochet creations!

The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. A temporary exhibit running October 16, 2010 to April 24, 2011. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Flower Power

When the cool weather approaced DC, I wanted to replace our summer centerpiece on our coffee table with an equally dramatic centerpiece for fall. I knew I wanted to use dried hydrangeas picked from our garden, but I wanted something extra to give it a modern feel.

Looking around our house, I found a wreath made from blueberry bushes and loved the wildness of it. When combined with the hydrangeas it created a wonderfully textured centerpiece. However, when I placed it on our coffee table, I realized it needed some height. I began another search for the perfect vessel to place my arrangement in.
Charleston Centerpiece Bowl
I remembered the wonderful Charleston Centerpiece bowl from Crate and Barrel given to us by a friend as our wedding present. I love the gorgeous shape of the bowl and It raised my centerpiece up to the perfect height! After adding some dried acorns to the base of the bowl, I was done with my fall centerpiece!
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