Saturday, May 19, 2012

Guest Post: Venetian Mirrors

Hi! I’m Joanna, a writer for Arcadian Lighting, a go-to source for beautiful LIGHT FIXTURES for the home. I spend my days gathering interior decorating ideas and images and sharing them with blog readers like you on blogs such as Whimages. Thanks so much for letting me share with you one of my favorite d├ęcor items, the Venetian mirror.

Dating back to the 16th century, Venetian mirrors were owned by royals and wealthy families. Their fine detailing and intricate beauty make them a stunning piece of art. While a true Venetian mirror is very costly, there are many quality reproductions which are affordable today. Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated by these mirrors with their ornate beveling, etching and cut glass curves. Here, I’ve gathered a collection of some of the loveliest mirrors I’ve run across.

This Venetian floor mirror makes a stunning addition to a sophisticated entry. This space is filled with lovely eclectic pieces.
Accompanied by a mirrored vanity and delicate wall sconces, this breathtaking version makes you wonder if this is an authentic Venetian mirror.
Two simpler cut mirrors flank the sides of a doorway. This dressed down look goes well with the natural elements in the room such as the sisal rug.
Some design professionals think a mirror above a mantel is a no-no, but this mirror looks like it belongs.
An unusual modern light fixture is reflected back into the room by a glistening Venetian above the ornate mantel.
A pretty powder room gets all dressed up with a luminous mirror above the vanity--gorgeous.
A little girl’s room makes the perfect place to hang one of these fairytale beauties.
One of the most intricately designed mirrors I’ve come across is pictured here in a grand entry laden with a demilune console below.
I hope you found these mirrors inspiring! Let us know in the comments! Don't forget to stop by Arcadian Lighting for the perfect lighting fixture for your home Arcadian Lighting

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chesterfield, oh Chesterfield. How do I love thee...
Chesterfield couches

I love LOVE it's velvety lush goodness!
 I'm a sucker for monochromatic. Every. Time! This one is SEXY~!  Looks like something one of the brothers from the Black Dagger Brotherhood would have! ...or CHRISTIAN GREY!
OHHH this one is DELIGHTFUL!!!   ...from google

matching vintage red chesterfield couches, and notice the rustic leather wrapped fireplace tool set.  Classic AND modern. cool.

Dream couch.  Something dramatic and full of character.  I've been obsessing over Chesterfield couches lately.
Again with the lush velvety goodness!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Rose Cake and Rose Cupcakes

You know how some days certain things just don't go your way?  Or how something you've done before just doesn't turn out the same way?  I had one of those days today.  On Mother's day of all days.  Urgh.  My husband's sweet Grandmother, Lena turned 90 this week and we celebrated it today with almost 40 of her family and friends.  I was in charge of the birthday cake and cupcakes.  Something that I enjoy doing.  I used the "white wedding cake" recipe I blogged about here!  It's a GREAT recipe and is fool proof. I promise!  Believe me if it COULD have gone wrong with this cake it would have but in the end the CAKE part of the cake and cupcakes was yummy. Moist and delicious! TRY this recipe!  Before I tell you about my catastrophe and tell you how I "think"  (man, I'm using a lot of " " in today's post!) you can avoid it, I'll share some other info about the process.

I wanted to go with a very feminine look and I found these PERFECT pale pink pearls by Wilton and also this lovely itty bitty edible rose colored, heart shaped glitter.  Remember that Ghirardelli Fudge Cake I had at our Velata party last week?  I never showed you how I made those cool chocolate swirls and chocolate leaves.  It's this AWESOME Wilton chocolate mold that I'm in love with that makes them!

I added just a few pink pieces of my candy coating to a bunch of white candy coating to get this super pale pink.  The color turned out great and the kids decided on which shape this time.  I can't wait to use the triangle or the zig zags!  These are an easy addition to your cupcakes, cakes or desserts and they have a big visual impact!  A pile of the triangles in dark chocolate would look so cool on a cheesecake!

About the frosting..  On some of the more "designer" looking cupcakes with the big dollop of frosting piled high in the middle but a rim of cake showing around the outside, the cake can become dry if made too early for your event.  I can solve that problem for you...DELICIOUSLY!  The KEY to this and to a wonderfully moist cake is a buttermilk glaze that I use to seal in the moistness.  It is an EXTRA step and I don't do it for every cake or cupcake recipe but there are some cakes like my carrot cake that wouldn't be the same without it!  I'm going to share the recipe with you but first here is what the cupcakes look like after glazing.  I'll put the recipe at the bottom of the post.
Before you frost a cake, it's best to seal in the crumbs with a CRUMB COAT, a thin layer of frosting that locks in the crumbs and the moisture before you actually frost the cake.  You let this layer set until it has a thin crust.  Here is a BIG tip I realized after THIS cake.  If you are making the rose cake you will want to actually frost the cake with a very thin layer of frosting BEFORE you put the roses on. Invariably you are going to have holes between the roses and you won't need to fill them in as much IF you can't see the cake underneath.  If you have white frosting and white roses it will all blend.  Or whatever color you are making the roses.  I didn't do this and I definitely WILL the next time I make the rose cake.  By the way, you need a 1M tip to make the roses on the cake and on the cupcakes.  This is a LARGE tip and I don't use a coupler, I just throw it into my 18" pastry bag.

 This was the first time I made the rose topped cupcake and I definitely will do them again. They were so easy and quick and are great if you don't LOVE a boat load of frosting on your cupcake.  It's the perfect proportion!

Frankly, my cake this time was a DISASTER!  I used a decorators buttercream frosting (half shortening, half butter because shortening holds up better in warm weather) but it was still too hot and humid here in Maryland for my cake.  Within about 15 minutes the roses on the side of the cake started sliding to the bottom.  I'm even embarrassed to show you the photos!  You will notice the roses at the bottom of the cake have a flat bottom in the photos.  They didn't start out that way! LOL  I'm including a photo of the last rose cake I did so you can see a better example although I will next time frost it so I don't have to "fill in" as much as I did.
Back to the disaster, by the time we got to the restaurant (after going to church and leaving the cake in the car) the frosting had totally separated from the sides of the cake!  At least the top was still pretty! LOL  Positive thoughts!  It was only about 74 degrees at this point but I'm guessing it was just still too humid and warm.  Next time I will make an all shortening buttercream if I have to take the cake somewhere.  Ideally, make this cake for an event you are celebrating at HOME!  It doesn't travel well!  The cupcakes survived beautifully, even the "chocolate" swirls on top were fine.  I hope you found this helpful and maybe someone can learn from my mistakes!  In the end Nana had a delightful day and THAT is all that matters!~
Some other cupcake posts that may interest you:
~Fat Free Fluffy Meringue Frosted Cupcakes
~Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes
~White Wedding Cake Cupcakes
Buttermilk Glaze
1       cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2    cup buttermilk
1/2    cup butter
1        Tbl. light corn syrup
1         tsp. vanilla extract
Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a tall heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Boil 4 minutes, stirring constantly until glaze is golden.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Cool slightly.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Container Gardens

Every Spring I look forward to designing and planting the containers around my pergola on the patio.  I start daydreaming in March about going all WHITE with my blooms or planting totally monochromatic flowers in shades of pink or purple.  My mind also, for some reason, always plays around with the DUNKIN DONUTS color scheme of PINK and ORANGE, well maybe that's my tummy talking.  This year I originally planned on going ALL WHITE.  I've never done that before and I've dreamed of it's classic beauty.  

However, I will tell you that when I first started picking out my flowers the lush velvety purples of the Petunias and the lipstick pink Geraniums seemed to be whispering my name.  But, I stayed true to course.  Picking white Petunias, white Alyssum, white Verbena, white Impatiens and white Geraniums.  I did throw in chartreuse and plum colored sweet potato vines.  Then I came across this FABULOUS "Pretty Much Picasso" Petunia on Pinterest and I fell in LOVE!  I was lured in by it's vibrant veined pink and chartreuse blooms but I figured I would never find it in my area.  THEN low and behold, there it was with it's happy smiling face at HOME DEPOT!  Of course a few hopped into my cart and then I had to add some other pinks and purples to my all white scheme!  Another cool little plant I found while checking out container gardens on Pinterest was Creeping Jenny, a perennial.  I don't know if I would have thought to add a perennial to my annuals but now I'm so glad I did!  My sweet friend Carlene had an overabundance of it so she loaded me 

Pretty Much Picasso Petunia
White Impatiens and Creeping Jenny in an antique sap bucket
up with oodles of it!  I have it in bunches of my pots spilling over the sides.  I LOVE it!  I can't wait for my pots to be overflowing with blooms and greenery!

Speaking of spilling over the sides...When you make a container arrangement there are guidelines that you can follow to get maximum visual impact. It's called the THRILLER, FILLER, SPILLER method.  You put one upright flower, one slightly smaller, spreading type and then one that spills over the side.  Some thrillers are: African Daisies, Geranium, Gerbera Daisy, Snapdragon, Marigold, Dianthus, Impatiens and New Guinea Impatiens and Petunias. Some fillers are: Alyssum (one of my favorites for the scent!) Coleus, Begonia, Verbena, Calibrachoa, Heliotrope (again, so FRAGRANT) and Lobelia. Some spillers are: Asparagus Fern, Creeping Jenny, Bacopa, Vinca, Ivy, Ivy Geranium, Calibrachoa, and Wave Petunia.  These sample plants are not set in stone, some of the thrillers can also be fillers and vice versa.  If you notice, the Calibrachoa is in the filler and the spiller section because some varieties are more upright than others.  Alyssum sometimes tends to spill too!  When I don't have room for all three, I'll put a spiller in with one or the other just to make the container asymmetrical for interest.  Of course you can just use one of these too!  When I do that, I try to put the container with a spiller next to a container with a Thriller or Filler.  It's not rocket science, just do what looks pleasing to you!  I'm not going to show closeups of my containers yet because they don't have that full and lush look I love.

My hanging baskets (which I did not plant, they are from one of my FAVORITE places ever, Grier's Nursery) have a THRILLER, several FILLERS and a couple SPILLERS! Mix up your containers, use the unexpected!  Just add a hole in the bottom for drainage!  This is an old sap bucket hung from the shelf of our pergola. I love it!  It just has a white Impatiens and Creeping Jenny trailing out the front.  Repetition can also play an important role in your container gardening.  Repeating colors and plants can add a lot of interest and give your grouping a cohesive look.  In your groupings, it's often best to use an odd number or "visually" have an odd number.  For example, on the back bottom right I only have two pots but the palm leaves visually add the 3rd item to the grouping. 

I'm currently obsessing over moss.  As you may know from my post all about  MOSS!  I've always loved the way moss looks in magazines when it's used as filler between stepping stones and pavers.  When I found this Scotch Moss at Home Depot, I immediately knew I wanted three pots of it on the pergola shelf.  It's a cool moss because it mounds itself and will look great in the little terracotta pots.  It's perennial so I won't have to buy it ever again, which is a plus!  Between them and the Creeping Jenny, I already have a head start on next years planting!  One last little note about repetition AND moss...while grocery shopping at Wegmans that moss sphere and moss covered basket insisted on getting into my cart to come home with me! (on the coffee table and the shelf).  
Scotch Moss
Purple Alysum and Creeping Jenny
Hanging planter with the Thriller, Filler, Spiller method of planting

When container gardening, I know many people like to use the typical spike grass and then fill around it.  Try something new, give this method a try and see if you like it!  I'm sure it'll be a blooming success! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Death by CHOCOLATE! A Velata PARTY!

This weekend we had a few people over to a Velata Chocolate Party.  As you might know, we sell Scentsy and as my may not know, Scentsy just opened a new division called Velata.  Velata is the finest, the most rich and decadent Belgian chocolate in an EASY fondue form.  It's perfect for parties!  We had the Caramel Milk Chocolate and Milk Chocolate.  AWESOME!  I'm not just saying that!  It was sooooo good! You can check it out here: Chocolate Whimsy

As with most parties, this one whipped our butts into high gear and Matt decided we needed new steps to the patio since we were having the party on the patio.  Just like Murphy's law states, the easiest jobs sometimes turn out to be the hardest!  When we (lol, actually that is HE) removed the old stairs we realized that the ledger board on our house below the patio door was rotted. Good Times, good times! A quick phone call to my father for some help and then double the stair budget later it's all fixed and we have pretty new stairs!  Matt was putting the treads on about an hour before the party started!  We work well under pressure!  The rail is not up but when it is I will post a pic.

The fondue warmer that came in our kit was red and I'm not a big RED fan (GASP!) so I thought I'd have a hard time getting a "table" display that I liked.  Then I remembered the AWESOME brown and red Dooney and Burke purse my niece got for Christmas a few years ago and all my problems were solved!  I used a piece of burlap angled loosely over a white table cloth and then threw in pieces of red fabric in the form of fat quarters from JoAnn's. (WITH a coupon!)  I "borrowed" the antique Coca-Cola crates from Cole's room to give me some height for the table.  Height always adds interest!  I put the warmers on one crate and a Ghirardelli Fudge Cake on the other.  While at JoAnn's, I found this ADORABLE CHOCOLATE MOLD.  I put a few swirlies and some leaves around the bottom and voila' it looks like it took me all day!  This is a delicious cake with an awesome chocolate butter cream too.  Here's the recipe:


2 Cups        flour
3/4 Cup      Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp           baking powder
1 tsp           baking soda
1/2 tsp        salt
1 Cup         butter softened
1 3/4 Cups sugar
1T              vanilla
2                 large eggs
1 1/3 Cups  milk

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and lightly flour 3- 8" round cake pans or 2- 9" rounds.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to slow and add vanilla and eggs one at a time, scraping bowl occasionally.  Alternately add on slow speed, dry mixture with milk, beginning and ending with dry mixture.  Blend in vanilla.  Pour into the pans and bake for 30-35 minutes  (don't mind the not so attractive frosting, it was as humid as pea soup here!

GHIRARDELLI  Butter cream  I double this recipe

6 T    softened butter
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

In mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl mix the powdered sugar with the cocoa. Blend the butter with the sugar mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with milk.  Mix in the vanilla.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Old Mossy Terracotta Pottery! DIVINE!

Do these images make your heart go pitter patter?  Do you get all googly-eyed about aged terracotta pots?  I certainly do!  Luckily, new terracotta doesn't have to look NEW for very long!  All you need is a trip to the grocery for some Activia yogurt, a  couple new terracotta or concrete pots, some moss from your backyard and a little chopper or mini food processor or even a blender!  Mix it all up, paint it on your pots and stick them in a bag, mist them well with water and seal the bag up for 10 days.  Your pots will continue to grow moss as the season wears on.  It helps if you mist the pots mossy sides daily.  Then, VOILA', terracotta pots aged to perfection in just a month or so!

Last year, I didn't have a lot of moss so my milkshake was very diluted and I also didn't bag the pots.  These two pots are examples of what they turned out like last year.  Not so bad!
These pots were treated with a very diluted moss milkshake last summer.  They were NEW when they were covered in the shake.

This is the kind of moss you should use to make your shake!  BTW, I'm in love with my little concrete toadstool from Terraine!  I wish I had a couple more!
Put one sheet of live moss and 1 small container of Activia yogurt into your mini food processor and BLEND well!

After painting the moss milkshake on with a brush or your hands, put your pots in a plastic bag for 10 days
You can also paint it on to pots that are already planted,  they just won't grow moss as fast.

Day 7 of a new pot