Friday, December 31, 2010

spruce up your champagne toast!

I'm a sucker for champagne.
(Especially on New Years Eve!)

However, on this low-key New Year's night I will have to pass on the bubbly, with a bun-in-the-oven, after all. Yup, I am sticking to Pellegrino...but that doesn't mean our guests have to!

I'd like to share a cute way to make your champagne toast a little more fun and festive. First of all, let me say that one of my favorite holiday purchases this year was this rosemary "tree." I'm sure you noticed them at the grocery store: cute little shrub, looks like a pint-sized Christmas tree, smells like hhhhhheaven? Yeah, I bought one of those little lovelies. I set him on a small plate {to catch drainage} wrapped his base with some festive garland, and delighted in the fact that his black plastic pot acted as a fun little chalkboard:

Cute, right?

Back to the carbonated loveliness that is champagne. I found this garnish idea on a sweetener ad last holiday season, and finally am able to do it! {I am a firm believer of ripping pictures out of magazines and shamelessly using the ideas. Admit it. You do it, too!} Plus, this gave me an excuse to use my favorite stocking stuffer from hubby -- my herb mincer! Ain't she a beaut?

You'll need:
fresh rosemary (1/4 cup finely chopped and 1 small sprig for each champagne glass)
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup water
several packets of all-natural sweetener

To make:
1. Combine chopped rosemary, lemon zest, water, and 1 packet sweetener in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Empty shaken concoction into a glass.
2. Take a sprig of rosemary, dip in mixture, allow excess to drip off.
3. Sprinkle the sprig with sweetener until a layer of "snow" covers it.

4. Set sprig on rim of champagne glass, fill with champagne -- or in my case, Pellegrino! -- and serve. Enjoy the Christmasy aroma with every sip!

PS: For some extra zip, pour a little of the mixture into the glass with the champagne!

Happy New Years Eve, my friends, old and new!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

thirty before 30 #5: a secret revealed!

I am terrible at keeping secrets...
...especially those wonderful, happy, ridiculously awesome secrets worthy of shouting from the rooftops!
But now, since we have finally told the rest of our immediate family and most of our dear friends, I can share with the rest of the world...
I am pregnant!!!

People keep telling me life is about to change...but it already has! I have traded in my wine for ice tea, my afternoon Red Bull for unreasonably long naps, my size S clothing for, well...let's just say more loose-fitting attire.

Yes, life has changed already - and will change much more!

We are ready {as we'll ever be}!
Change is definitely oh-so-good in this case!

{we can only pray that baby has my ginormous head}

Oh, and did I mention I'm done with my first trimester? Yes, Baby and I have made it through 12 weeks together.

{the little one waving at you}

Some answers to some questions you may be dying to ask:
  • Yes, we are going to find out the sex, and yes, we will share that the world!
  • Yes, we DO have our girl and boy names picked out, but unless you are my sister you will not know until baby has been born. I know, annoying, right? :o)
  • Due date = July 12th, 2011
  • Yes, you can rub my tummy! Please do!
So that is #5 on my list of Thirty Before 30 checked off: get pregnant. {This was definitely my hubby's favorite - ha!} I had to keep it a secret as we really had no idea when it would happen. Turns out first official try is a charm. :)

Welcome, Baby Ford - to the world, er, womb!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

thirty before 30 #10: hostess a wine tasting

I consider myself a lover of wine. An oenophile, if you will.

I've always wanted to host a wine tasting, but since my energy has been down to nil and planning/executing a large party seems a little overwhelming at the moment, I decided to incorporate a mini-tasting into a small gathering of girlfriends last Saturday night.

The style I chose was simple, as my guests were admittedly novice wine drinkers: three different varietals, from three different vintners, paired with three complimentary cheeses: Swiss with the pinot, cheddar with the cab, and {my personal favorite} g-g-g-goat cheese. LURVE!

I led the tasting, poured the wine, shared my meager technical knowledge, and had a lovely time doing it all! :)

Have you ever hostessed a wine tasting?
What type was it? I would love to do this again on a grander scale, and would value any advice you might have!

Another item accomplished on the {30 before thirty} list - phew!



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spiced Apple Cider = {cup of cheer!}

When deciding beverages to serve for a small Christmas gathering I hostessed over the weekend,
I couldn't help longing for a childhood favorite: hot apple cider. My mom always had a piping hot vat of cider on Christmas day ready to be dispensed to all the guests we welcomed in that day.


6 cups - apple cider
1 teaspoon whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks {more for garnish, if desired}
several generous shakes of nutmeg

1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan, then simmer for 10 minutes. The smell that will fill your kitchen is A-Ma-Zing.

2. Using a strainer to remove the cloves/sticks if you want, carefully pour the cider into your desired container. I used a large stainless steel serving thermos which held 12 cups, kept the cider steaming hot throughout the evening, and was easy to dispense.

3. Serve in cute mugs, garnished with cinnamon sticks!

That's it -- so easy and so cozy delicious!
Or for you less-ambitious types...just go to Starbucks and get some Caramel Apple Spice...extra hot, don't hold the whip!!!
Linking to this fun food par-tay:

{bits of christmas}

I must sincerely apologize.
I have been a very bad blogger lately. As in, completely MIA.
My only excuse I can give you right now is this: sheer exhaustion!

The holidays have finally taken their lovely hold on me, so I thought, just to stick my toe back into blogging, I would share a few bits and baubles from my home at Christmas so far...

{the smell of cinnamon-scented pinecones}

{some red and gold lovelies from the tree}

{shiny foil with deliciousness inside. p.s. these will not last long}

{our tree. white pine. freshly cut}

{Christmas sugar cookie baking. my very first time. can you believe? so yum. so messy.}

So this is Christmas so far at our Kentucky home --
much love to you and yours!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

{Winner!} Pier 1 Gift Card Giveaway

I am so excited about my first giveaway...and am even more excited about announcing the fabulous winner and mailing off that $25 Pier 1 Gift Card! Sorry I am a little late...I am on a crazy huge time difference here in Hawaii!
So without further ado...

According to my random number generator...

The winner is...the author of comment #3...

Yay! Congrats Erin! I will contact you via email to find out where you would like me to ship your Pier 1 gift card. Many thanks to all who left comments and entered in this little giveaway. Your comments always make me smile. :o)


Monday, November 22, 2010

thanksgiving tables: inspirations from martha

As I sit here on my lanai in gorgeous Maui, Hawaii {yes I realize how how evil I sound right now} I can't help but feel a twinge of sadness that I will not be celebrating a traditional midwest Thanksgiving feast surrounded by friends and family. I won't get to eat turkey, or my personal favorite: mashed potatoes and gravy. I won't get to dress up a dinner table with the "good" dishes and make everything warm and festive for any guests.

What I can do is go to the beach, relax in the sun with my hubby, and feel extremely thankful for this vacation and the beautiful things that are going on in my life right now. Thank you, God!

Oh and thank you Martha Stewart, for posting such lurvely photographs on your website of Thanksgiving table settings. Gives me some ideas for next year...and makes me feel a little bit more like it is actually Thanksgiving over here in tropical, 80 degree, Maui.

I love the blue and shiny gold color scheme used here:

Okay, this blue feather tucked into that slate gray ribbon (which Martha suggests using as a headdress later - fun!) is so absolutely cute. I think the green glasses add an interesting pop against the gray:

The rustic simplicity of this scene makes my heart flutter...which happens really anytime grapes are used. Don't they look luscious?

Some more to be thankful for, even if you are not in Hawaii...a short work week, time with your family, and a good excuse to get creative and decorate a fabulous holiday table!

Much love!

PS: Want to enter a fun Thanksgiving giveaway? Click the link below:

Friday, November 19, 2010

{warm, happy welcome!}

If you are reading this right now -- welcome to Modern Garden!

Maybe you've stopped by before. I link most of my posts to my personal Facebook page, so if you regularly check me out there I would LOVE if you decided to become a "follower."

Let me tell you a little about my blog. It is meant to be a blissful, positive place. My desire is to feature beautiful images and words to inspire you about food, decorating, nature, and life in general. I can't say I will teach you anything about cooking or crafting (I'm a mere dabbler in these lovely things) but I may have a cute idea/recipe here and there! Mostly my passions are writing, home decor, and nature photography. So that is what you will mostly see here!

First time at Modern Garden? Hope it makes you smile...
...and click {HERE} to enter my $25 Pier 1 Gift Card giveaway!

Warm wishes to you!
PS: Right now I am coming to you from beautiful Hawaii -- I will try to post about some of our adventures throughout the week!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

giveaway: pier 1 gift card!

Okay, so I've never done a giveaway on Modern Garden before.
I'm a giveaway virgin!

I would love for YOU to be a part of my very first giveaway: a $25 Gift Card to Pier 1 Imports!

I often mention places I love to shop. One of my favorites is Pier 1...especially during the holidays! I could wander for hours. They have gorgeous ornaments, fabulous stockings and so much other beautiful decor that makes my heart flutter!

Does anyone else luuurve Pier 1?

If so...enter my giveaway and perhaps you'll find some Pier 1 lovelies like these red glass candleholders:

...or these cozy sweater stockings...

...or these fun, glittery ornaments!
{all photos courtesy of pier1}

To enter the $25 Pier 1 Gift Card Giveaway:

1) Be a follower of Modern Garden ( Just click on the "FOLLOW" link to the right and "follow" me using your Gmail or Yahoo acct. Don't have one? Takes a couple minutes to create. Easy!)

2) One Entry: Leave a comment telling me you are a follower of Modern Garden --if you follow anonymously make sure you leave an email address I can contact you to get your mailing address if you are the lucky winner.

3) Second Entry: Leave a comment about why you love Pier 1!

4) Third Entry: Leave a comment telling me about another store you love shopping at for holiday decor! :D

Contest will end at 11:59pm on Sunday, November 21st, so all entries must be in by then. Winner will be chosen randomly by a random number generator and will be announced Friday, November 26th.

Again, to win I must be able to contact you to get mailing info, so make sure when you comment your profile is linked to an email address (check your settings) or you leave your email address in at least one of your comments.

Good luck!!!!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

breakfast love: {pancakes...from scratch!}

Anytime I hear/read "from scratch" I get a little nervous. Hives, really.
Those words sound so complicated. So involved!

This morning when my hubby requested pancakes, I had to announce we had, sadly, run out of pancake mix. Upon seeing the look of disappointment on his face, I quickly said, trying to appear brave -- "No fear...I'll just make them...from scratch!" Oi.

Thankfully, pancakes are super easy to make from scratch. All I had to do was whip out my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook, pages stuck together and scribbled on, and turn to "Pancakes - Easy." (Would I really want the "Pancakes - Hard" recipe???)

So I gathered the ingredients (all stuff I and most people already have)...

1 lg egg
1 cup all-purpose flour (or whole wheat if you want to go healthy!)
3/4 cup milk (or use 1 cup buttermilk!)
1 TB granulated white or brown sugar
2 tb vegetable oil
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

I beat it all together in a medium-sized mixing bowl:

Poured my batter onto my pre-heated pan, already sprayed with cooking spray, of course. :)

Then I cooked until bubbly on top. Recipe yields 8 4" cakes, or 4 larger -- we make 'em big in our house!

We devoured ours with fresh fruit and cinnamon applesauce...and of course butter and plenty of syrup!

What did you have for your Sunday morning feast?


Thursday, November 11, 2010

no headboard needed!

I typically follow the established rules of bedroom furniture placement.

Rule #1: Always place the bed on the wall opposite of the door. Logic is that you walk into the bedroom and your focal point is your lovely bed.

Rule #2: Don't place your bed in front of a window. (I think this may be more of a mystical rule. Like bad ju-ju may come in your window at night and give you strange dreams...)

Rule #3: You must have a headboard, whether it be part of your bed or some sort of artistic piece that acts as a headboard.

Don't ask me who made up these rules. What I've found in decorating my home is that some rules are meant to be broken!

For example: We have no headboard and our platform bed is placed directly in front of the main window in our bedroom. Which happens to be a gorgeous tri-window with an amazing view of the vibrant red and orange fall leaves on the old trees on our street.

So it is not a headboard. Or a piece of art. But it is rather artistic.

Oh, and I do have strange dreams at times...but I don't blame the window.
{Probably is the glass of wine and plate of pasta I ate before going to bed!}

What is outside your bedroom window?


Sunday, November 7, 2010

sepia-toned november

Yes, mamas and papas,
all the leaves are brown, now, and the sky is gray.
I did go for a walk on a winter's day.
{Yeah, I know, it is not technically winter yet. Just play along.}
So I bathed these shots taken at my parents farm in sepia.
Winter beauty in brown - enjoy!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

kitchen bliss: french country-style

I grew up in an old farmhouse at the dead-end of a gravel road in southeast Minnesota.

I loved living in the country, spending my days in the fresh air (well, sometimes you got a whiff of manure from the neighboring pig farm) and our home was always a place of comfort and fond memories.

This weekend I travelled home to visit my parents, brothers, and our other family that still live in my hometown. I got to experience a pleasant surprise -- seeing the final result of my mother's long-awaited "new" kitchen! They completely gutted their kitchen, entryway, and guest bath and the result is a transformation worthy of a kitchen design magazine.

This little blog will have to do. :)

I unfortunately have no "before" pics, but let me paint a picture: dark, old cabinetry, light blue laminate floors, laminate counters, dark mauve wallpaper...a green plastic toilet seat!!!!!

Enough said.

My mother is a saint and deserved this kitchen. She also has very good taste and did a fabulous design job!

These white pumpkins were a gift from yours truly several years ago...don't they look perfect in the new kitchen?

Here is the entryway. Luuuuuuurve that gorgeous storage bench!

She used bronze light fixtures and hardware, which is a stunning contrast to the white french country cabinetry and creamy tile backsplash.

My mama has a pot-filler! I am so proud! :o)

They have the largest island I have ever seen in a kitchen -- and the granite is stunning, with a river of blue running through it.

Here is my mom...thankfully she has no idea how to use the internet, so there is no way she can get mad at me for putting her picture on my blog...just kidding! I warned her...sort of. :) Isn't she sweet?

I love my mom!

And my dad, of course. It is his kitchen, too. In theory. :)