Jul24

Bathroom Storage
Photography by Rebekah Burder.

In our cottage, I use what was meant to be the spare bathroom. When we moved in, there wasn’t a cabinet to be found, excluding one little nook built into the shower. Combine that with sloped ceilings, and you have a major design challenge. The redeeming detail? Enough space to add in storage.

I started with hanging the Byger rail, Grundtal hooks, and Asker containers from Ikea used in my office closet in Alabama. I used these for makeup brushes, contact solution, face potions, and various other things that could fit into the containers. I left one hook bare to hang my loofah from, because it is reachable from the shower.

Bathroom Dresser Hanging Storage in Bathroom

I found a three-drawer chest in a soft gray at TK Maxx in Waterford to store the things I don’t want guests to see. 🙂 The chest was a major score, and took about six months of searching for the right item. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice for the typical storage you find in Irish department stores. Until I found it, I used a crappy little bookshelf in a revolting shade of pine. Let’s just say I was VERY excited to replace it.

I found a wire basket for face cloths at Dunnes in Kilkenny (part of the Carolyn Donnelly line), straw basket for makeup at Ikea, straw basket (originally a planter) at Ikea for toilet paper storage, and glass containers for q-tips and cotton balls. I packed those in our original house shipment. One is from a thrift store, the other from Target.

Toilet Paper Storage Towel Storage
Towels in Wire Basket

A wire basket hold extra towels  at the base of the sink. Both the basket and towels were purchased at TK Maxx in Kilkenny.

Bathroom Tub After Bathroom Tub Before

While this isn’t storage, it’s more of a simple fix. The bathtub is a bit of an issue. When we moved in, it had a piece of wood blocking it off that was too large. The edge barely fit under the lip of the tub, and it was long enough that it blocked off the back of the tub. There is a portion of the shower door that leaks, and so the wood was also staying damp and allowing mold to grow. I removed it to allow air to circulate, but it looked terrible. I found a smaller piece of wood at a local shop for €11, painted it with a tin of €.50 sample paint on clearance, and propped it in front of the tub. It’s a good short term solution until the tub is fixed and we can put in something more permanent.

Jul23

Sunrooms Style

Modern White Sunroom
Photo by Amy Neunsinger.

We have this amazing kitchen and eating area that has vaulted ceilings, four skylights, three doors, and banks of windows on three of the walls. They all combine to create this amazing space that is filled with light from the time the sun comes up to the minute it sets, even in winter. There were times during the winter that I just basked in patches of sunlight, like a cat, even on the coldest days. It’s going to be my little project this winter, turning it into a sunroom with a sitting area and smaller dining table. Here are a few images I’m using to inspire myself as I start my research!

Above, a traditional living room is turned into a sunroom with the addition of large scale doors that open completely to the outside. Owned by Shawn Gold & Amy Neunsinger, you can see more of this gorgeous home on Apartment Therapy.

Black Striped Rug Blue and White Sunroom

These sun rooms, featured on House and Home, are done in two very different style. On the left, photographed by Angus Fergusson, butterfly chairs and a black and white striped rug combine for a modern feel. On the right, photographed by Michael Graydon, blue fabric and white detailing create a more country look.

Global Eclectic Sunroom Industrial Modern Sunroom

On the left, dark green shades provide cool shade on a hot day in this eclectic sunroom. On the right, canvas, metal, and wool are used for an industrial style sunroom. Both photographed by William Waldron and featured on Elle Decor.

Stone Fireplace Sunroom White Lounge Sunroom

Although this sunroom isn’t my style, I love the soft greens and blues. Photography by Rett Peek for At Home Arkansas.

Bedroom Sunroom Dining Sunroom

Although this won’t work for our room, I’ve always liked the idea of turning a bedroom into a sunroom style, like this home photographed by Romain Ricard and featured on The Housewife Wannabe.

Modern White Pavillion Small White Conservatory

This Scandinavian house has so many light-filled spaces I had a hard time choosing just one. It has a miniature greenhouse, covered porch, and skylights galore. Visit the Hus & Hem website to see more images from Helene Torresdotter.

Modern Office Sunroom

Another option would be to skip the sitting area and put in an office. Doesn’t that view look divine? Photographed by Stephanie Wiley.

Jul22

Summer Centerpiece

DIY Peony Arrangement
Photography by Rebekah Burder.

Do you ever get frustrated while viewing a pretty centerpiece online because you don’t know the name of every flower they’ve included? Or they’ve used exotic plants that you have no hope of finding easily? Maybe I’m the only one, but I decided to start photographing the arrangements I put up around the house using flowers from the grocery store and my garden. Peonies have started showing up at Aldi and Lidl (our discount shops), alongside freesia, so they provide the base for this arrangement. I also included ivy from one of my plants, and two stalks of snapdragon from the front garden.

Easy Peony Arrangement Summer Peony Arrangement_14

I prepped the vase by adding water mixed with floral preservative, then created a floral tape grid to provide structure.

After the vase was prepped, I started cutting and placing the flowers. Let me see if I can explain it properly, I cut the peonies, freesia, and snapdragon to three different heights: highest, mid, and lowest. The peonies were the first to go in, trimming each stalk to one of three heights: highest, mid, and lowest. I then added the freesia, cutting each stalk to mid and lowest, and snapdragon, cut so that the end of the tip matched the highest peony. Ivy was the last to go in, adding two strips to the left, and one to the right because I wanted a slightly asymmetrical look.

Summer Peony Arrangement_12
Summer Peony Arrangement White Snapdragons

Because I taped in a grid for structure, I was able to loosely arrange the flowers, allowing the peonies and freesia time to open. Both of which take up double or triple the space they originally require. Here are the peonies after a day or two to open…

Peonies and Freesia
Pink Peony Centerpiece Summer Peony Arrangement_19

I rearranged a bit as they opened to even it out. I ended up with three of the peonies clustered closely together, which I liked more. On the second day, I walked out of my bedroom to see a shaft of morning sun right on the arrangement. I couldn’t resist taking a photo with the dramatic dark background. Just lovely.

Summer Peony Arrangement_15
Summer Peony Arrangement_16

If you haven’t used freesia before, I highly recommend. It’s beautifully scented and will stay in bloom for up to two weeks in cooler rooms. I spent €10 total on this arrangement!

Jul19

Outdoor Dining

Al Fresco Dining Lemon Centerpiece

Outdoor dinner parties are a signature of the warm weather seasons. It’s the feel of an outdoor cafe patio without leaving your home. I have yet to attend an outdoor party that I hated. There’s something about the fresh air and the way the sun sets and candles are lit that just gets me, every time. In honor of the summer season, here’s several of my favorite parties al fresco.

Style Me Pretty Living is now a daily read for me, and they have featured some of the prettiest outdoor dinner parties. On the left, Abby hosted a simple and low stress al fresco dinner, using a small table and chairs from her house, along with everyday tableware and garden peonies. On the right,  Sara Mackenzie and Jen Wojcik used lemons and blueberries for their summer dinner party.

Linen Tablecloth Stylish Camping Dinner

Other parties I love from Style Me Pretty, are this party (left) from Cmostr Photography that uses candles and linen to set the scene, and a camp-style dinner party that is kid friendly from Clary Photo.

Fern and Wood Centerpiece Moss and Candle Centerpiece

When you see the names Rylee Hitchner, Tec Petaja, Joy Thigpen, and Ginny Au in the same sentence, you know the event is going to be good. Rylee hosted a Tuscan wedding full of gorgeous details, photographed by Tec Petaja. My favorite details are the centerpices. On the right, a hollowed out log covered in moss holds ferns and other woodland beauties. On the right, candles are surrounded by moss on the banquet style table.

Patio Dinner Party Lemon Water

Design Sponge featured this spring dinner by Nancy Neil earlier this year. What I love most is that it isn’t fussy or overly designed, using a carafe for lemon water and simple glasses for summer cocktails.

Rustic Outdoor Dinner Party Simple Dinner Party

I’m obsessed with Nicole Franzen’s photography (she’s also an amazing Instaphotographer), and so I knew I would love this New York dinner party photographed by Nicole and hosted by Kinfolk. The summer wildflower centerpieces were created by Amy Merrick, who gave a lesson in arranging after the dinner.

Kinfolk Style Outdoor Party Square Picnic Table

Megan from The Fresh Exchange hosted this summer dinner party in Michigan. How lovely is that square picnic table? And the main dish of salt-packed fish looks delicious!

Outdoor Fall Dinner Party Pine Branches Table Runner

Finally, this party photographed by Ryan Ray shows that outdoor dinner parties can extend well into the fall season. My favorite details are, well, all of it. From the pine branch table runner to the beautiful calligraphy in a lovely shade of green, it’s all gorgeous.

Jul18

Today’s guest post is from Yolène Dabreteau, a French photographer and food blogger living in Dublin with her partner, Eoin. You can find more of her beautiful French-inspired recipes at her blog, Crème de Citron.

Raspberry Summer Recipes
Photography by and copyright to Yolène Dabreteau.

I have to say my favourite Summer dessert is definitely a good French cherry clafoutis. This beautiful cake originates from the Limousin region in France. It is traditionally made with sweet dark cherries (and if you are a true clafoutis purist, you will cook the cherries with their pits in). The batter is custard-like and gives this dessert the aspect of a flan when cooked.

My paternal grandmother used to make the best cherry clafoutis I have ever tasted. The smell of the cooked cherries bubbling away with the batter in the oven… Oh my! It was so beautiful! She probably added a secret ingredient as she would often do with traditional French recipes, because to be honest I have not had the chance to eat a similar one since she left.

Raspberry Summer

But as much as I love clafoutis aux cerises, my favourite Summer fruits are raspberries. The memories I have from my childhood Summer holidays are filled with bushes upon bushes of raspberries. A lot of them would usually end up in the making of jams. You could see those beautiful pink berries simmering in a very large copper pot and their smell would escape and hide in every room of the house. And the scent of cooked raspberries is just really amazing.

Raspberry Clafoutis

So now, imagine your favourite Summer dessert and Summer fruit. Dream a little bit about it. Then, mix it together and you have a delicious clafoutis aux framboises (raspberry clafoutis). Sprinkle in some chopped white chocolate and it is even better (why yes! Raspberries and white chocolate are a beautiful combination!). Et voilà!


Raspberry and White Chocolate Clafoutis Recipe

Yield: 4-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 300g raspberries (10 oz.)
  • 300ml milk (1 and 1/4 cup)
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 80g caster sugar (2.8 oz.) (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 120g plain flour (4.2 oz.)
  • 75g cream (2.6 oz.)
  • 20g melted unsalted butter (0.7 oz.)
  • 100g chopped white chocolate (3.5 oz.)

For greasing and dusting:

  • 5g unsalted butter (1 teaspoon)
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC (390ºF).
  2. Grease a baking dish (about 20x25cm – 8×10 in.) with the 5g of butter, dust with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Tap the excess out and put the dish in the fridge while you make the cake batter.
  3. Pour the milk in a small saucepan and put over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and set aside.
  4. Beat the eggs with the sugar in a large bowl. Pour the flour and whisk it in delicately. Add the hot milk while whisking constantly. Mix in the cream and melted butter until you get a smooth batter. Spread the raspberries in the baking dish. Pour the batter over the fruits. Sprinkle in the chopped white chocolate.
  5. Put the dish on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 30 minutes (check with a skewer or a sharp knife blade that it is cooked through, it should come out clean). It should be lovely, golden and puffed up a bit. Take the clafoutis out to rest and sprinkle some caster sugar over.

Let it cool down completely in the dish before serving it. I prefer savouring it chilled but some people also like it lightly warm. When the clafoutis has cooled down, cut little squares out of it straight from the dish. At this stage, you might want to serve it with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream but this is not common in France. We tend to eat our desserts as they are.

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