Categories
outdoor living seasons

Don’t cancel summer!

Just because most of 2020 was canceled doesn’t mean that lazy days spent at home have to be too. With vacations off the calendar this summer use that time to make your back yard a retreat. Creating an affordable water oasis is within reach with these brilliant ideas.

Stock Tank Pool

During the dog days of summer, having a pool is top of the must have list. There has been a run on above ground pools and installing an in ground version may be financially out of reach. You don’t need to resort to a plastic kiddie tub for your cooling fix though. Stock tanks have become a popular and inexpensive way to incorporate a soaking area in your yard.

Stock Tank Pool Authority

Plunge Pool

Regular-size swimming pools may dominate a smaller sized lot making a plunge pool ideal when space is at a premium. These pared down pools still follow the code requirements as their larger counterparts and much of the equipment is the same. Costs would be dependent on the finishes and ease of excavation.

Aqua Blue Pools

Inflatable Pool

An inflatable pool can be ready for water in fifteen minutes and is just a click away. Having a built in filter is critical as this keeps the water fresh for weeks though you may need to top off the water level due to evaporation once it’s filled. Best of all once summer is over it can be stored away until next year.

Intex

Man Made Pond

Unlike a traditional, chlorine-filled swimming pool, a natural pool is designed to mimic an old fashioned swimming hole. Natural swimming pools are filtered organically with a gravel filter or a plants that clean the water. While not an inexpensive option, a bio pool would blend into yard’s landscape adding value by giving your home a water view.

The Swimming Pond Company

Mr. H says: Every summer has a story-Enjoy!

Categories
Holidays seasons

10 things you need to host a holiday party

Pulling off a holiday party at home is made easier by having a few basic things on hand to make your soiree stress free.

1. The list

The key to any successful event is to make lists of all the elements that will go into the party. Include all the food and beverages along with glassware, tables and chairs, etc. that need to be purchased, borrowed or brought out of storage.

2. A coat rack

Clear out a space for your guest’s to stash their coats and purses. If you have the room, a temporary coat rack will eliminate having jackets draped over your furniture during your event.

Portable coat rack
Bed, Bath and Beyond

3. All purpose wine glasses

Stemless, dishwasher safe glasses can serve double duty for both wine and cocktails. Keep the boxes and store the clean glasses in a dust free space so they are ready to go for your next party.

Stemless wine glasses
Luminarc

4. Festive paper products

Cocktail parties call for themed paper plates and napkins, making clean up a snap while creating a lovely setting. Use a larger luncheon size for the food table and cocktail napkins at the bar for drinks.

Christmas paper napkins
Caspari

5. An easy menu

Keep the menu simple with a variety of five or six items. Create a festive spread utilizing both store bought items and home made. Stock up on crackers and cookies so that if the food is running low you’ve got back up. Forgo serving anything that needs a fork opting for pick ups, dips, and veggies.

Mini beef wellington bites
Wiliams Sonoma

6. The punch bowl

Turn any type of clean vessel into a serving piece. No punch bowl, no problem since a soup tureen can hold a libation with a matching ladle too. Bonus: Having a batch of cocktails premade will make serving easier than making drinks individually.

White soup tureen
Pottery Barn

7. Serving pieces

Take inventory of your platters and trays, designating what they will hold ahead of time. Don’t forget your cake stands or tiered trays for creating various heights on the table.

White cake stand
Frontgate

8. Holiday decor

You don’t need expensive florist’s arrangement to create a holiday setting. Snip greenery from your yard and intermingle with pine cones, berry stems and flame less candles for an easy table top design.

Christmas decorations

9. Holiday tunes

Never underestimate the power of music. Besides providing background noise, Christmas music elevates everyone’s mood.

10. Trash cans

Make clean up easier on yourself by putting out plenty of trash cans for your guests to dump their used paper plates. Ditto on creating a dirty glass station with a tray near the kitchen.

Decorative serving tray
West Elm

Mr. H says: Tis the season to jingle and mingle-Enjoy!

Categories
Holidays seasons

Real or Faux Christmas Trees-the Facts

The Christmas tree is at the heart of the season’s holiday traditions. But as we become more eco-friendly does it make sense to cut down a living evergreen for such a short-lived pleasure? An artificial tree made of plastic doesn’t feel too “green” either. So it’s time to unpack the facts of both kinds of trees.

The Real

As with most types of farm products, Christmas trees are grown as managed crops. They are not cut down on a large scale in the wilderness. Taking about a decade to grow a six foot tree, farmers generally plant new trees to replace the ones that have been cut down.

Taylor Rooney

As the trees grow, they provide animal habitats, clean the air, and prevent soil erosion. Rolling hills, that are unsuitable for other crops, are where Christmas trees grow best. At the end of the season, real trees can be composted returning them back into the natural environment.

Keep your real Christmas tree looking good through the season by making a fresh cut to the trunk and immediately placing in warm water. Set up your tree away from direct heat sources and be sure to check the water level daily. It is not unusual for a tree to drink 2 gallons of water the first day it is the stand.

The Fake

Most people that opt for an artificial version do so out of convenience. (Disclaimer: Mine is fake!) Since artificial trees are made of metal and plastic they are not biodegradable like real trees. Recycling is nearly impossible since the materials used to fabricate the tree would be need to be separated to do so.

Artificial Christmas tree Balsam Hill
Balsam Hill

The question of eco-friendliness depends largely on how long you keep your artificial tree. The more seasons you reuse it, the more environmentally friendly it becomes.

Artificial Christmas Tree Birch Lane
Birch Lane

Look for artificial Christmas trees made with polyethylene, or PE plastic, instead of PVC. PE plastic is more durable and also tend to look more realistic. Proper storage in the off-season is key to ensuring that you can enjoy your Christmas tree for many seasons.

So now onto the next debate: white or colored lights?

Mr. H says: It’s not what’s under the tree that matters but who’s around it-Enjoy!

Categories
bathroom decorating Holidays outdoor living seasons

8 Easy Design Tips for Fall

Bring that Fall feeling inside by adding cozy autumnal touches around your house with these festive and easy decor ideas.

Front porch greetings

Greet family and friends with a Fall themed wreath or porch vignette. Incorporate natural dried materials, gourds, and seasonal flowers into your display for a delightful seasonal welcome.

Fall wreath ideas
Creekside Farms

Faux Fur Pillows

Swapping out lightweight summer throw pillows to more textural ones like faux fur, velvet or chunky knits in darker jewel tones is an easy Fall upgrade.

Faux fur pillows
Grandin Road

Bring the Outside In

Add natural textures to your decor by mixing twigs, hay and gourds with pewter and mercury glass for an elegant Fall theme.

Natural fall decorating ideas
Pottery Barn

Pretty Paisley

A richly colored, set of paisley napkins is an easy way to transform your dinner table for Fall. Add a monogram for a personalized look.

Paisley monogrammed napkins
Donovan Design Linens

Chic Baskets

The warmth of natural woven baskets feels instantly Fall. Pile a basket with fruit in the kitchen or group a few on the coffee table to stash the remotes or hold magazines.

Natural woven baskets
West Elm

Copper Accents

Handcrafted copper items have a rich glow that fits seamlessly into Fall decorating. An occasional polish will keep it looking shiny or allow it to mellow into a verdigris patina.

Copper candles
Akkadian Candles

Tidy Up the Bath

Don’t get caught off guard by holiday guests. Stock the guest bath now with fresh towels, soap and scented candles.

Marrakech towels Matouk
Fine Linens

Cozy Up Outside

Enjoy Fall’s cooler evenings outside with seating arranged around a fire pit. Keep cozy pillows and throws on hand if the weather turns extra chilly.

Mr. H says: Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower-Enjoy!

Categories
outdoor living seasons

Is your back yard pet friendly?

With the Charleston weather predicted to turn much warmer this weekend, we’ll want to venture out to enjoy some Spring temperatures with our pets.  It is a common assumption, that our yard poses no danger to our fur kids however their are some precautions to take to ensure that your animals can roam without the fear of being hurt.

photo by Boudewijn Huysmans

Escape Routes

Gaps in the fencing or the ability to tunnel should be addressed.  Besides actually escaping, animals can become trapped or pinned in causing serious harm or suffocation.  Make sure fences are too tall for your dog to jump over and do periodic perimeter checks to make sure that fencing is intact.

Wild Animals

Small dogs and cats have been known to be carried away by eagles, hawks and owls so it is important to never leave them unattended.  Other predators that could attack when provoked include, raccoons, snakes and even wolves.   Keep these creatures at bay by not leaving out food, including bird feeders, overnight and securing other food sources, like garbage cans.

photo by Zdeněk Macháček

Vegetation

The prettiest parts of your yard could be the most dangerous to your pet.  Many common types of flowers are toxic to animals, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or even death.

Certain vegetables like onions, garlic, wild mushrooms, avocado, and grapes are lethal as well and should be cultivated away from your pet’s play area.

Chemicals

Pesticides and fertilizers keep our outdoor spaces free of pests and creates lush grass and vegetation.  These are poisons and should be stored in proper containers and out of reach to your pet.  Learn about ways to organically fertilize and get rid of pests naturally.  Same goes for the toxic cocoa bean mulch.  Pet owners will find pine and cedar mulches are good alternatives.

 

The Elements

Heat stroke can occur in all animals so be sure your yard has shady places for your pet to rest and has access to plenty of water in the summer.  Alternatively, in winter months animals should have access to a dog/cat house, garage or shed with blankets and a bed to avoid a chill.

Mr H says: Dogs laugh with their tails-Enjoy!

Categories
Holidays recipes seasons

Ten Holiday Entertaining Tips

Throwing a holiday get together doesn’t have to be stressful or feel improbable during this busy time of year.  Follow these ten no fail tips to host a memorable holiday gathering.

Traffic Flow

To avoid traffic jams, place the bar and the food in two different areas.  Spreading people throughout your home make for better mingling.   Create a plan for managing coats and wraps as well as gifts you may be receiving.

Easy on the Food

There is no need to go overboard on the types of foods you serve.  Having five or six items to choose from, mixing hot and cold, on a beautifully decorated table will make for an exceptional party.  Abundance is everything during the holidays, so be sure to have enough nibbles to satiate all your guests.

photo by Caroline Hernandez

Serve in Style

Eschew the paper plates and stock up on durable white melamine plates that go straight into the dishwasher.   Choose a neutral white color and cool shape so that they can be reused throughout the year.

Glassware too!

Riedel

There are economic sources for stocking up on multiples of bar ware, including Riedel stems, that can be reused time and again.  Save the boxes they come in for easier storage after the pieces are washed and dried.

Use Unscented Candles

Since scented candles mingle with other aromas, including food and your revelers perfume, use unscented candles in your holiday decor.   Keep candles in the center of the table or placed up high.  We don’t want guests catching on fire by reaching over an open flame or backing into a low placed pillar.

photo by Element5 Digital

Stock the bar

Anticipate that guests will consume two drinks apiece in the first hour, then an additional drink per hour for the party duration.   For a self serve bar, set out openers, glasses and plenty of napkins.  Check back frequently to ensure that the bar remains well supplied.

Craft a signature cocktail

Instead of a full bar, serve beer, wine and soft drinks along with one signature cocktail.  This tree beverage dispenser makes it extra special.

Try Santa Punch

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 qt. pomegranate juice
  • 3 cups blanco tequila
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 (750-ml.) bottle dry sparkling wine, chilled

Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Cool syrup completely (about 45 minutes)

Stir together pomegranate juice, next 3 ingredients, and simple syrup; chill 4 hours. Pour mixture into a punch bowl or dispenser, and gently stir in sparkling wine just before serving.

Tunes set the Mood

Every holiday party needs a good soundtrack.  Consider your music and the volume based on your guest list.  Conversation is what counts at any celebration, so be sensitive with your play list.

Keep it Cool

Even on the coldest of winter nights, a room full of guests can heat up quickly.  Keep your house cool prior the party turning up the heat only when guests refuse to shed their coats.   Instead of lighting the fireplace fill the hearth with a mix of  unscented candles.

Powder Room Prep

Have the powder room guest ready with pretty disposal hand towels, lovely soap and lotion, tissues and plenty of extra toilet paper within easy reach.

Frontgate

Mr. H says: Life is the best party you’ll ever be invited to-Enjoy!

Categories
color seasons

Summer Colors

Celebrate the Summer solstice with these hues from my favorite paint companies.

Pale blues like Benjamin Moore’s “Summer Shower” has the cooling effect of deep shade on a hot afternoon

Benjamin Moore 2135-60 Summer Shower

“Summer Shower” bathroom walls create a tranquil retreat.

Benjamin Moore

The lemon lime of “Limon Fresco” from Sherwin Williams feels like a frosty Mexican cocktail.

Energizing work space walls in “Limon Fresco”

Sherwin Williams Limon Fresco

PPG Paints June Color of the Month “Honeysweet” is a cross between peach and pink

PPG Honeysweet PPG1065-3

Dewy living room walls create a refuge from summer’s heat

PPG

Mr. H says: Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy-Enjoy!

Categories
fabric seasons

Summer Fabrics

As temperatures soar in the Charleston area we are looking for ways to both celebrate and avoid summer’s heat.

Shimmering metallic wallpaper and ethereal white sheer curtains simulate a desert mirage.  JF Fabric’s “Magique” wallpaper collection offers a myriad of dazzling pattern choices.

JF Fabrics

Designer Elizabeth Lamont crafted this living space for Curated Kravet.  Reminiscent of the California coastline, it is calm, cool and collected with neutrals and soft blues that create a peaceful oasis.

Kravet Elizabeth Lamont California Cool curated room

Robert Allen Fabrics newest collection: Madcap Cottage “Into the Garden” is a sophisticated yet carefree take on patterns we all have tucked into our collected summer memories.

Robert Allen @ Home Madcap Cottage Into the Garden Collection

Crisp blue and white from Thibaut’s Calypso Sunbrella Collection would be refreshing after a hot day on the beach.

Thibaut Calypso Sunbrella Collection

The Pavilion Collection from Duralee feature brights like lime and turquoise that hit the right notes for an alfresco summer party.

Duralee Pavillion outdoor fabric collection

Mr. H says: The tans will fade but the memories will linger forever-Enjoy!

Categories
charleston outdoor living seasons

Charleston Summer Fun

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina enjoying a perfect sunset, cold libations and delicious food at one of Crosby’s Dock Friday night parties.  On a recent evening we enjoyed the festive atmosphere at this quintessential Charleston locale.

Crosbys Dock Charleston South Carolina

Perched on the banks of Folly Creek, the iconic Crosby’s Fish and Shrimp, epitomizes the best of the Charleston Lowcountry’s seafood industry.

Crosbys  d

Generous plates of freshly caught seafood come straight from the dock into the rolling kitchen

Crosby's dock  Charleston South Carolina

Charming nautical decor enhances the rustic atmosphere on the dock

Crosby's dock Charleston South Carolina

Nautical decor

Bring your dancing shoes as the Friday night dock parties feature live music.  Tutus optional.

Crosby's Dock Party

The evening ended with this stunning sunset over Folly Creek.  Check their Facebook page for future dock party dates.

South Carolina Lowcountry sunset

Mr. H says: Time is marked by each sunrise and sunset whether or not you actually see it-Enjoy!

Categories
outdoor living recipes seasons

Outdoor Spring Entertaining

With the weather finally turning to Spring, it’s time to move the party outside.  In the South, elegant entertaining is a way life and outdoor entertaining should be just as luxurious.

Ditch the paper and plastic for a colorful array of assorted table top.  Hillsborough, NC company, VIETRI is the largest importer of handcrafted Italian tableware and home decor products and we all know the Italians are master sat la dolce vita!

Vietri dinnerware

Think Spring produce, like asparagus and carrots, when creating centerpieces for a Spring party.

Create a dedicated area for the bar.  Provide plenty of backyard friendly glasses and napkins.

Williams Sonoma

Be sure to plan for lighting at nightfall with solar lights strung high enough to walk under.

Pottery Barn

Gather in the backyard with family and friends to enjoy a few games of classic lawn bowling.

Williams Sonoma Lawn Bowling Game

Host a gracious picnic out of this English willow basket from Williams-Sonoma.  Filled with fine tableware, linens and serving essentials for food and beverages, it has everything for a grand outdoor dining adventure.

Williams Sonoma Wicker Picnic Basket

The cocktail hour is an entertaining must in the South.  Feature the refreshingly light British Pimm’s Cup at your next outdoor affair.  This drink pairs lemon and ginger with the spicy fruit flavors of a gin-based liqueur called Pimm’s No. 1 cup.

Pimms Cup photo Becky Luigart-Stayner  Lydia DeGaris-Pursell
Becky Luigart-Stayner; Lydia DeGaris-Pursell

  • 3/4 cup Pimm’s No. 1
  • 2 cups ginger ale, chilled
  • 1 1/3 cups sparkling water, chilled
  • 4 lemon slices
  • 1 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut into 4 spears

Fill 4 tall (12-ounce) glasses with ice cubes.  Pour 3 tablespoons Pimm’s into each glass. Pour 1/2 cup ginger ale and 1/3 cup sparkling water into each glass; stir to combine. Garnish each serving with 1 lemon slice and 1 cucumber spear. Serve immediately.

Mr. H says: Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!’-Enjoy!