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If you’ve been driving around lately and wondering, ‘What are those beautiful pink blooms bursting from yard after yard?’ the answer to your question is this: Sasanguas. These flowers are in full swing this season! Realizing that I had missed out on this trend, I borrowed a few from my neighbor for the sake of this Sunday’s Table.

If your neighbors are as generous as mine are with their garden, snag some Sasanguas of your own and make this super easy centerpiece.

1. Fill a casserole dish with water

2. Snip blooms, leaving a 2″ stem

3. Arrange the blooms in the water

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What did I tell you? It’s just that easy, and beautiful too! These kinds of centerpieces are my absolute favorite. It just goes to show that all you really need in order to make a beautiful centerpiece are beautiful blooms.

The month of February is typically characterized by one thing and one thing alone—Valentine’s Day. With this Hallmark holiday staking it’s claim on the first half of this month every single year, it is impossible to ignore the fact that love is certainly in the air and it is something contagious. That being said, this past month I have been inspired by a major symptom of the holiday itself—romance. However, I am not referring to the candy-hearts and chocolate-kisses kind of romance. My inspiration has sprung from something more sensual, dare I say dreamy, and with an irresistible punch of passion that will leave you breathless and give you some different ideas for Valentine’s Day.

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Photos courtesy of (From left to right): Design Love Fest, Rie Elise Larsen via House of Bliss, and Anthropologie

Romance is like floating. Create an indoor escape with decor such as a sanctuary of pillows, a ‘magic carpet’ throw, and a colorful collection of candelabras.

Enchanted Evening

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Photos courtesy of (From left to right): Terrain, Light Locations, and Free People Clothing

Romance is about adventure. Establish a fairytale evening of your own with this woodsy chandelier, an intimate soak, and a dress fit for both the warrior and princess within.

Secret Garden

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Photos courtesy of (From left to right): Harper’s Bazaar via Apartment 34, Confetti Pop, and Darling Magazine

Romance is for indulging. Uncover desire in a lush world of fast cars and feathers, floral toppers for your favorite cake, and flowers in your hair.


In my line of business I am both blessed and cursed with the need to travel. While I love experiencing new places, traveling from one place to the next often proposes some challenges. With the weather being abnormally cold—and snowy and icy—it has become increasingly clear to me how important it is to be prepared for any and every situation when on the road.

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As you can see, the Grove Park Inn and the long road home were both covered in snow. Thankfully, my friends at the Grove Park Inn provided me with a travel kit for my drive home and the inspiration for today’s post. I made it home safely and then immediately made a safety kit of my own to keep in my car at all times.

1. Food

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2. Water: Keep at least 2 liters in your car at all times.

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3. First Aid Kit

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4. Toiletries

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5. Roadside Kit (and a cozy thermal blanket from a friend!)

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6. Cat Litter: Sprinkle around tires to get your car free from the snow.

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7. Ziplock bags and trash bags

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8. Extra pair of clothes (not pictured)

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Happy driving! Be safe!

Take A Chance With Romance.Still022It’s Friday, you can’t wait for 5 o’clock to get here because you have been working like a dog all week long. In fact, all of your hard work has given you a terrible headache so you head to the drug store on your lunch break to grab something to ease the pain. To your surprise, it looks as though the entire store has been hit by a pink and red tornado. Then it hits you—Crap! It’s Valentine’s Day and you have definitely missed the window for making reservations at any decent restaurant. What the heck are you going to do?

Breathe easy, my friends. While dining with your special someone at their favorite restaurant may be an easy solution to your Valentine’s Day dilemma, it is certainly not the most creative. Stop staring at the 99-cent card section, scratching your head, and wondering if, “I forgot Valentine’s Day (again) but you sure do look cute” will make up for being a total dud. Grab some candles, camellia blooms, and something yummy. You are going to save Valentine’s Day (and possibly your relationship) by transforming your living room into a romantic garden party for two!

Take A Chance With Romance.Still023Take A Chance With Romance.Still024Take A Chance With Romance.Still025Take A Chance With Romance.Still026Take A Chance With Romance.Still028Happy Valentine’s Day, you crazy lovers!

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Once again, a special thanks to:
Haley Sheffield for her fabulous photos;
Dynes Media for another outstanding video;
and Kaylee Daily for bringing some style to the blog.

 

Take A Chance With Romance.Still019Like any holiday or special occasion, what makes Valentine’s Day so exciting is all the anticipation leading up to it. It is those little moments of unexpected sweetness that make your loved-ones all ooey-gooey inside. With only a few days left before February 14th makes its grand entrance, putting all you lovers on display, it is time to start busting out the big guns.

Ladies, show your handsome fellow that all of his hard work has not gone unnoticed by packing him a special Pre-Valentine’s Day lunch with all of his favorite eats. But don’t just let the food do all the talking—put your appreciation onto paper with a handwritten love letter that is sweeter than any dessert.

Take A Chance With Romance.Still015Take A Chance With Romance.Still014Take A Chance With Romance.Still017Take A Chance With Romance.Still020Gentlemen, you’re not off the hook just yet. Show your special lady that you’ve been thinking of her too. Taking time to put together a simple bouquet says ‘I love you’ and ‘you mean the world to me’ like never before.

Take A Chance With Romance.Still013Take A Chance With Romance.Still009Take A Chance With Romance.Still010Take A Chance With Romance.Still011Take A Chance With Romance.Still012Take A Chance With Romance.Still016Now that you are both either melting into a puddle or floating on cloud nine, the groundwork for a perfectly sentimental day is complete. Valentine’s Day is almost here and there is no doubt about it now.

Let the loving begin!

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Once again, a special thanks to:
Haley Sheffield for her fabulous photos;
Dynes Media for another outstanding video;
and Kaylee Daily for bringing some style to the blog.

I am thrilled to be sharing our very first giveaway with all of you—a brand-spanking-new pair of Hunter Rain Boots.

Carmen in Red Hunter Boots

It is no secret that, as a gardener, I absolutely adore my pair. They are perfect for quality time spent in the garden. They are also a great friend to have—and a great splash of color—on those grey, rainy days. However, these beauties are just as much of an accessory as they are a necessity. Women all over are finding fun, fashion-forward ways of incorporating Hunter rain boots into their daily style.

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(Top to bottom: Kaylee McCullough of Kaylee Daily in coral; Blair Eadie of Atlantic Pacific in yellow; Lacey Maffettone of A Lacey Perspective in hunter green; Bri Emery of Design Love Fest in grey; Ellie Larsen of A Beautiful Mess in purple; and James McCoy of Bleubird in black.)

While there are so many incredible colors to choose from, today’s giveaway is for a pair of the Original Tall Rain Boots in red.

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All you have to do to enter into the drawing is comment below telling me where you plan on wearing your new boots first. One week from today, on January 30th, one winner will be selected at random and announced on here. You have until next Thursday at noon to submit your comment.

Best of luck!
-Carmen

Hunter is not paying me to endorse their brand. I simply love their products and believe that my readers will also.

Beautiful Tulip Bulbs

Beautiful Tulip Bulbs

As the weather chills and the arrival of winter comes to mind, I have visions of tulips and daffodils dancing in my head…shouldn’t it be sugar-plums. A trick to remind yourself when to plant anything is to connect it to a holiday. In this instance, Halloween is that holiday. When you think of Halloween don’t just think of ghosts and goblins, but of the beautiful kaleidoscope of color that the new season will bring as the winter fades.

Buying

Many state that September or October are the months that bulbs must be planted, however, I like to hold off until Early to Mid-November as long as mother nature and the weather agree meaning no hard frosts or snow. The reason being is because the sales begin to show up and increase during November. Today, I was able to purchase almost 100 bulbs for less than $40 because they were 60% off. However, if there is a flower that I must have because it is hard to find such as Fritillaria meleagris – then I snatch them right up. Buying bulbs in large bulk bags where there is 15 to 20 bulbs per bag is a much better bargain and use of my hard earned dollar.

All of that being said, it is still important to make sure the bulbs are quality. They should be hard – not mushy, soft or have mold growing on them. This can be the case if storing bulbs and reusing them from last spring. Discard any bulbs that have these characteristics.

While shopping, pay close attention to the bloom time, you will want to make sure your mixes either bloom at the same time or bloom throughout the spring depending on the design of your garden.

Planting

Bulbs are often planted in ground, but I love them best in containers. Since my soil is more on the clay side and I don’t have the time or patience to amend it; bulbs will rot before they bloom. I prefer planting bulbs in containers. This way, I can ensure that I will have beautiful springtime blooms due to excellent soil and good drainage. Planting them in a container design that is four seasons is ideal, but bulbs alone in a container in spring have a grand effect on the garden. It brings it to another dimension of beauty for me.

These windowboxes are getting a planting of colorful spring bulbs today.

These windowboxes are getting a planting of colorful spring bulbs today.

In the South, we must refrigerate bulbs 2 weeks prior to planting so that they go through a dormancy cycle and be ready to bloom their heads of in the spring.

Only in the South, bulbs will need to be chilled for 2 weeks prior to planting.

Only in the South, bulbs will need to be chilled for 2 weeks prior to planting.

When planting bulbs, you always want to have the pointed end upward and the flat side where roots will emerge or are already emerging on the bottom. However, if you do this incorrectly, the emerging stem will grow toward the sun.

Make sure to plant flat side where roots emerge at bottom and pointed tip on top.

Make sure to plant flat side where roots emerge at bottom and pointed tip on top.

Make sure to reference the planting depth on the packaging to know what is correct. The general rule of thumb is to plant 2 to 3 times deep the height of the bulb. So if the bulb is 1-inch high – plant 2 to 3-

inches deep. It is also extremely important to plant the bulbs in a location where they will receive the correct sun exposure –full sun is 6 + hours of UV light and shade is 3 or less.

Typically, I like to scatter bulbs or put them in groupings of 5 to 9 when planting them in the ground. In containers, bulbs can be planted one right next to another and be a floral bouquet as the snow melts.

Using a bulb planter is fine, but attaching an auger to a power drill makes the job super fast and easy.

Adding an auger to a power drill can speed up this project.

Adding an auger to a power drill can speed up this project.

If planting in containers, like I did, make sure to use a good container soil. Fertilizer can be used, but it isn’t necessary. However, if you feel inclined to use it an organic granular fertilizer or a fertilizer specialized for bulbs is ideal. If planting in containers in the North, make sure to top the soil with mulch or leaves to insulate the bulbs. Placing the containers in the garage, shed, or placing them close to the house would help keep the soil from freezing through.

Care

After planting your bulbs, make sure to water til it comes out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the container. If you live in a Northern climate, watering during the winter months is not necessary as the rain and melting snow will provide enough water for your containers and in-ground plantings. In Southern states, it may be necessary to water if there are spells of drought and heat throughout the winter months.

Watering in the South during the winter may be necessary (Photo Source: BHG.com)

Watering in the South during the winter may be necessary (Photo Source: BHG)

It may be necessary to protect your bulbs from squirrels and rabbits. Squirrels like to dig up the bulbs and play with them like basketballs. The way to prevent this from happening is by topping the soil with mesh or chicken wire then topdressing with mulch. The critters won’t be able to dig to get to them. The other problem may be rabbits or deer. They prefer the gourmet leafy greens of your newly emerging bulbs. I prefer using organic methods were possible and have had luck with making a homemade cayenne pepper spray to deter them from chomping on the foliage.

Don't let those squirrels mess up your spring plans!

Don’t let those squirrels mess up your spring plans! (Photo Source: BHG)

Once your beauties have blossomed, bloomed and are spent. Take your pruners and remove the stem and foliage. This will force more energy into the bulbs instead of it spending it time on the dying foliage.

Storing

After all my bulbs have bloomed, I remove the bulbs from the containers and store them for next season and plant the bare containers with annuals for the summer months. If you would prefer to not remove the bulbs from the containers, working your annuals around them is completely doable. It’s totally understandable for gardeners out there with limited time on their hands.

If you would prefer to remove and store your bulbs, remove them from your containers and prune off any foliage. Place in a paper bag and put on a shelf in your garage, basement or shed. The reason for the paper bag is to absorb any moisture so that the bulbs do not form mold or rot. Placing them on a shelf gets them out of reach for critters to eat or use them for their own purposes.

Paper bags work the best for storing your bulbs from year to year.

Paper bags work the best for storing your bulbs from year to year. (Photo Source: The Gardener)

Then the following fall (remember around Halloween), take your bulbs that you stored and reuse them in your containers or plant them in the ground. I like to take pictures of what I have done in the past and put them in the bags or make notes on the bags of what I would do differently for the following season.

With bulbs, your spring can be fill of flowers and colors!

With bulbs, your spring can be full of flowers and colors! (Photo Source: BHG)

Favorite Bulb Source: K. Van Bourgondien and Sons

Refreshed my annual beds this season with ‘Liberty Classic™ White’ Snaps, ‘Sorbet Purple’ Violas, and ‘Delta Premium Light Blue’ Pansies. Perfect for a sunny location and be sure to water at least twice a week. Plant snaps towards the back and violas and pansies towards the front for a layered effect. Many gardeners don’t realize that snapdragons actually prefer cooler temperatures; so they are great varieties to pick for early spring and fall plantings. They can tolerate cold temperatures into the 40’s. Here is a great article from the horticulturist at Mississippi State University on the topic. Can’t wait for spring…50 bulbs are hiding in the ground and can’t wait to show off their color.

Nov 16 GGBD

In Georgia, we just experienced our first frost for the season. Like many gardeners, I am preparing my garden for spring and looking for ways to use the produce that I have still growing and green tomatoes are in abundance. Yes, there is always the traditional fried green tomato recipes, but I wondered what else could be done with these beautiful fruit. My mind instantly went to interior decorating ideas and came up with this beautiful display below.

Green tomatoes add a beautiful constant to your orange and white pumpkins.

Green tomatoes add a beautiful contrast to your orange and white pumpkins.

 

Then, of course, my mind goes to something sweet I could make with them and I found the perfect solution – Green Tomato Pie – filled with the fragrant spices of the fall.

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Green Tomato Pie – Quick, Simply and Easy

 

Here is what you will need for this recipe:

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. quick-cooking tapioca

1 lemon, zested

2 lbs. green tomatoes, 1/4 inch-thick slices

1/2 c. golden raisins

2 tbsp. lemon juice

4 tbsp. butter

2 premade refrigerated pie crusts, Pillsbury or your favorite brand

Pick 2 lbs. of green tomatoes from your garden. Even if the plants aren’t looking the best – the fruit is still worth saving.

Perfectly edible!

Perfectly edible!

 

Wash tomatoes and slice them to be 1/4 inch-thick. There is just something so elegant and beautiful about a green tomato – don’t you think?

Slice tomatoes to 1/4 inch-thickness

Slice tomatoes to 1/4 inch-thickness

 

Now prepare your sugar and spice mixture to dredge your tomatoes in. Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, tapioca and lemon zest into a bowl. Using freshly ground cinnamon and nutmeg brings this pie to a whole another dimension in taste. This can easily be done by using a microplane as shown in the images below.

Freshly ground nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon zest at a HUGE pop of favor.

Freshly ground nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon zest at a HUGE pop of favor.

 

Now it’s time to get your pie crust ready! You shouldn’t need to grease your pie dish because of the butter in the dough, but putting some non-stick spray on won’t hurt. For this time-starved girl, premade is the way to go, but if you want to make your own dough – go for it! The recipe link is at the bottom of this post!

Pre-made pie crust is this busy girl's short cut.

Pre-made pie crust is this busy girl’s short cut.

 

Next dredge your tomato slices in your spice mixture and lay in the crust like below.

Drench tomatoes in spice mixture and place in crust.

Dredge tomatoes in spice mixture and place in crust.

 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. After all tomatoes are placed in the crust top with 1/2 c. golden raisins and 4 tbsp. of butter cut into slices.

Feel free to substitute regular raisins, dried cranberries or cherries here as well.

Feel free to substitute regular raisins, dried cranberries or cherries here as well.

 

Then top with the remaining crust.

I can taste it already!

I can taste it already!

 

Pierce top of pie with fork in several places for air to escape. Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees after placing pie in. Bake for 30 minutes. Check periodically – if edges of crust are starting to get over done. Place a tinfoil collar around the edges. After 30 minutes of baking, brush crust with heavy cream (or an egg wash) and sprinkle with course sugar. Bake for another 30 minutes. It is also a good idea to place a tinfoil-wrapped cookie pan below the pie to catch any juices that leak out or having an oven liner is ideal and makes for easy cleanup.

To me, this pie tasted just like an apple pie and full of fall favors. I hope you will give it a try!

Enjoy!!

Enjoy!!

 

Original recipe from Food Network