a touch of nature

For the most part this season, I am decorating with elements inspired by nature.  Rather simply too.  I opted for a lighter, brighter color palette rather than the traditional warm, fall colors.  This palette can also be found at the shop and many of these elements are for sale there.  Typically I am decorating similarly at home as I am at West End Garage.  It keeps things simple!

natural fall mantel display with stacked wood

Cotton stems have been very popular and you can see why.  They’re so easy to work with.  Just plop them in a vase or in this case, a galvanized flower bucket.  They really can be on display from late summer/harvest season through New Year’s.  So many options!  They look good alone or with an accent flower.  I thought it was fun to pair them with twigs and vintage arrows for this vignette.  I used just 3 stems in each bucket to get this look.

cotton & arrows

The other accessories include feather balls, mini pumpkins and antler ornaments.  The antlers are small reproductions so they’re sort of guilt free for people who are into the antler trend but not a fan of decorating with animal relics.  They’re available at West End Garage too along with a quickly growing collection of ornaments.  Tis the season!

simply natural fall mantel

simply natural fall mantel

I got my wish of beautifully stacked wood after pining and pinning!  Our wood burning stove has been installed and is ready for winter.  I love how the seasoned wood accents this display and gives purpose to the mantel.  And the faux bois planter certainly doesn’t hurt.

fall mantel display with stacked wood

Peering past the mantel into the corner, you can see the Captain has something new over there and it’s not just the orange raffia pumpkin (also available at West End Garage).  He’s perched up on a vintage 6-drawer card catalog which I am super excited about.  I spotted this in an antique shop and spent a week dreaming about it for this space while fearing it would be gone by the time I got back.  It was there waiting for me and it is the ideal fit for this corner.  Plus the drawers are the perfect size to hold DVDs.

fall card catalog side table preview

I am deciding where to go from here with it, aesthetically.  It needs to be boosted up a few inches to true side table status.  Probably with casters since I seem to put casters on everything in my home.  Also, should I paint it?  That corner seems dark and the wood isn’t anything spectacular.  Linen seems like a viable option – maybe just the frame and not the drawers?  Please do weigh in!  Would you paint a vintage card catalog?

all of that kale

The garden is off to a great start this spring. We’ve had warm, sunny days and cool, misty nights. As a result, we’re harvesting bunches and bunches of lettuce plus a bunch of leafy kale every other day.

leafy kale

The more frequently it is harvested, the higher the yield.  I hate to let any of it go to waste because I know once the temperatures soar these greens will bolt leaving me wishing for just one more kale infused smoothie.  And I’ve tried but I’m just not into kale chips.

maximizing the harvest- kale-3701
In order to maximize the kale harvest and make it last well into summer I’ve come up with a plan.  After washing the bunch of kale and trimming the stems, I toss it into a pan and blanch it.  This only takes a few minutes.  I usually do it while making dinner.

maximizing the harvest- kale-3694

Then, with tongs, I place the wilted greens into an ice-cube tray and cover with water.

making kale cubes

Pop the tray in the freezer and we’ve got kale cubes.  The cubes are ready to chill any smoothie or to toss into any soup, stir fry or side dish.  I put the excess cubes in a freezer bag to make room for more.  There’s another harvest right behind this one!

Maximizing the Harvest - kale cubes

I recently read an interesting article about the benefits of using cooked kale vs. raw kale in smoothies.  What do you think?  What is your preference?

mediterranean veggie burgers

Guys, I’m always on a quest for interesting veggie and bean burgers.  I came up with a little combination for a Mediterranean inspired burger last week.

Mediterranean Veggie Burger

Making any veggie burger can be a bit time-consuming with all of the chopping and food processing so I finally got smart a doubled up my recipe this time so we’d get twice as many.  For us, that means 2 dinners and 2 lunches instead of just one of each.  Or 8 burgers.

And since I am in post-Clover Market hangover mode today, that means I can just pull out the 2nd half of these burgers and fire them up tonight with minimal prep.  Amen to that.

Mediterranean Bean Burger

So here’s what’s in my (double) Mediterranean veggie burger.  I chopped, ground and combined the following ingredients:

  • 2 cans of kidney beans
  • 1 can of olives
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 large tomato (draining the juice)
  • 1-2 stalks of scallions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt, pepper, oregano

*We were out of fresh peppers or I definitely would have added one however olives are definitely the key to making this veggie burger full of Mediterranean inspired flavor.  I may just add more next time!

For a binder, I used one slice of bread plus a handful of oats and 1 egg.  I usually use 2 of the 3 mentioned binding agents but I felt wild so I threw all 3 into the mix this time.  It is just preference.

Mediterranean Veggie Burger

I pan cooked these for about 8-10 minutes on each side and then served them up on ciabbatta rolls with avocado & lettuce.  Yum!

What is your favorite veggie burger combo?  What should I try next?