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Essentials

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The season for fresh peaches is almost over, but if you can’t find any at your grocery or farm stand, this recipe is worth saving! Cinnamon and cardamon are perfect partners for the juicy peaches, and this amazing streusel takes it over the top! Who doesn’t like the smell of coffee cake baking in the oven? Grab yourself a slice and a cup of coffee and enjoy! Continue Reading

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This recipe works great as a main meal, plus it uses one of my favorite fruits: mango! You have the sweetness from the mango, a bit of spicy from both the red and black pepper and the creaminess from the avocado. If you decide to serve this as a first course, try it in a martini glass for a touch of elegance!

I think shrimp is more flavorful if roasted in the oven rather than boiled in water. Just toss the shrimp with a few tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast for 8-10 minutes at 400° or until they’re just pink, firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool, then add to your salad. I found the original recipe in Cooking Light Magazine. Enjoy!

Sweet ‘N’ Spicy Shrimp & Avocado Salad with Mango Vinaigrette

• Mango Vinaigrette

• 6 cups shredded romaine lettuce

• 1 cup chopped red bell pepper

• 6 Tbls thinly sliced green onions

• 1 pound peeled, cooked shrimp

• 1 avocado, peeled and diced

Place Mango Vinaigrette in a large bowl. Add lettuce, bell pepper and green onions. Toss well. Add shrimp and avocado. Toss gently.

Mango Vinaigrette

• 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

• 2 Tbls chopped, fresh cilantro

• 1 Tbls olive oil

• 1/2 to 2 tsp crushed red pepper or to taste

• 1/2 tsp sugar

• 1/4 tsp salt

• 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

• 1 garlic clove minced

• 3/4 cup diced, peeled mango (about 1 medium)

Combine first 8 ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Stir in mango.

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For our final book club selection before we break for the summer, we’re featuring the second book in Ellen Herrick’s magical Sparrow Sisters series, The Forbidden Garden. It’s the story of Sorrel Sparrow and her rare gift for nurturing plants and flowers. Sorrel travels from her New England home, to an English country estate, where she’s been asked to revive a Shakespeare garden imbued with family secrets. Gardeners, art lovers, and romantics will love the fairy tale Herrick spins. I had chance to interview the author and ask her some questions. She’s also happy to answer any of your questions in the comments field.

Q. You write such beautiful characters in The Sparrow Sisters. How did the idea of the sisters come about? Continue Reading

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From the time I was quite young and first read The Boxcar Children, the idea of living a very small life has appealed to me. Not small in the sense of unadventurous, safe, invisible… but small as in square footage. I’ve been a tiny house fan since the early 50’s!

A little back-story: In March, 2015, we sold our 3,500-square-foot home with a pool and large private yard. We had tired of being house-keepers. We downsized to a lovely 1,200-square-foot leased condo. Last July we downsized again, this time to our 900-square-foot apartment. Our motor home trip in April from Austin to Key West and points in-between, was all it took for us to commit to going “full-time” and downsizing into our 300-square-foot motor home. Continue Reading

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Considering my rocky start, it’s a wonder I’ve developed anything that could be considered style. In college my decor was Early Affordable which included bookshelves and an “entertainment center” made from bricks and boards found in an alley. My dining table was a giant wooden spool that once held telephone cables, and the dining chairs were smaller versions of the same spool.

Least you think I’m too matchy-matchy, the smaller spools just happened to be in the same alley.

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It was my friend Patrick who warned me about the dangers of theme decorating. I had regaled him with my dream of a Scheherazade-style dining room: kilim rugs on the floor, ikat runners down the table, camel-shaped teacups, brass candlesticks, giant paisleys painted on the walls, and heaping platters of Basmati rice on the buffet.

The whole scheme made Patrick nervous. He didn’t want to see my dining room jumping the shark. In the upper echelons of the design world, theme decorating is frowned upon. It’s a big fat no-no.

God forbid you decorate an entire house in beach décor when a tasteful trug of seashells will suffice. And even more pox upon you if your house is not situated on an actual beach.

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The author shopping the Paris flea market
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So who likes old things, please raise your hand. Me too!

A few years ago, I decided to open a shop selling antique and vintage objects and art. My shop would be online only, and in order to stand out from the crowd, I would curate my old treasures into stylish little vignettes that a person could plop into their home for an instant look.

It’s been really fun for one main reason, which you already know. Old things come with the juiciest stories attached to them. Continue Reading

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'Before'
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I don’t want to sound like some wacko who says, “God talks to me,” but over a year ago, I heard… let’s call it an “idea”… that I should sell the ranch. It was as clear as if someone were standing in the room, talking to me. Although this had never happened before, it wasn’t scary or alarming, and in my heart, I knew it was what I needed to do. A few days later, I put the ranch up for sale; the place James and I so loved and the place where he died.

The same day I went online, looking for an old buffet to hold mother’s crystal and china; things in storage I hadn’t seen for 10 years. Of all the things to search for… That was the weird part.

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In August of this year, 2016, I purchased one of what would become 2.8 million recalled Samsung, top-loading washing machines (involving 34 different models) that may EXPLODE FROM WITHIN. Samsung has known of almost 750, documented, serious consumer injuries and damages to consumer homes since 2011, but didn’t notify purchasers of a problem with their washing machines until November, 2016. They mailed us “warning labels” with instructions on how to apply them to their machines.

I love this line in their instructions: “You have successfully applied the under-the-lid warning label to your washer.” Gee… Am I supposed to feel better now?

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