Friday, July 24, 2015

An Appreciation of Lavender

Our little lavender bush on the side of the house is in full bloom with lovely color and fragrance.  I have always appreciated lavender in table arrangements, candles, and air fresheners, but it is only recently that I have tried to work with it in home decor and to use it in food and drink.

Part of my challenge was to cut and use some of the lovely fragrant stems in an arrangement, but I did not have a huge abundance of lavender nor a small pot in which I would create a little arrangement for a vignette or small space.   So my mission was to find something at a store which would allow me to use the delicate lavender.

Here is what I found.  This charming little rake from Stein's Garden Center is made of metal with a distressed finish and includes an attached pot which is perfect for holding a small arrangement of flowers or herbs (or maybe even a candle).  They also had one in the shape of a shovel.  Both are darling, but I could only choose one.  The rake captured my heart and I could envision the bouquet of lavender and daisies in the pot with a sweet burlap bow to finish it off.  Perfect for a front door entrance. 

My next challenge was to use the lavender in either food or drink.  Since we are having a hot spell, I thought it would be interesting to make some lavender lemonade.  What a pleasant twist to a great summer time staple.  To make the delicious lavender lemonade, I made the simple syrup with 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar.  Bring it to boil and drop in 4 stems of lavender and let cool.  During this time, make your lemonade.  Since I had only a few lemons on hand and not enough for an entire pitcher, I used a combination of fresh lemons in water and some powdered lemonade to make a greater serving amount.  I then added the lavender-infused syrup and ice to the lemonade.  The lemonade has a hint of lavender flavor.  It does not over power the lemonade, but if you prefer more of a lavender flavor, you could definitely add more cut stems to the simple syrup.  In larger quantities, the lavender may even change the color of your lemonade to a lovely light purple.    How refreshing on a sunny summer day! 

Thank you for visiting.  Please come again.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Celebrating Garden Beauty.......A Garden Tea Tablescape

This is the time of year that mesmerizes me and has me feeling humbled by the striking beauty of nature that is exquisitely displayed around us.  How can I not stop for a moment to appreciate the variety of brightly colored flowers and stunning plants that are in full bloom and rival for my attention and enjoyment.  I am totally at awe over the picturesque rolling hills of endless lush green corn and alfalfa fields and the kaleidoscope of beautifully designed flower beds dotting the farming landscape.

Each summer on a sunny day,  I particularly look forward to paying a late afternoon visit to the lovely, West of the Lake Gardens.   Once a privately owned home and six acres of beachfront property of the John and Ruth West family, it is now a public flower garden on the shoreline of Lake Michigan between the two cities of Manitowoc and Two Rivers, Wisconsin. This post will give you a glimpse of the spectacular gardens and although they were part of my inspiration for a garden-themed tablescape, I will leave a full tour of the gardens for another upcoming post.

My garden tea tablescape was surprisingly inspired in part by a cute, little tea pot which was unexpectedly given to me from my former neighbor, Mrs. B.  (Thank you so much Mrs. B for your precious gift!)  This adorable tea pot with it's whimsical butterfly lid along with my blue and pink garden-themed salad plates reminded me of the dazzling West of the Lake Gardens and conjured up all sorts of flower garden ideas that resulted in the following Garden Tea tablescape.

First, lets start with a sneak peek at some of the gorgeous flowers planted throughout the West of the Lake Gardens.  Lets begin with the ones I picked that were complementary to the dainty garden-themed tablesetting that I worked hard to achieve.  I can truly say that my original design for the tablesetting was far more rustic, but these pictures of the delicate, pastel flowers of pink, blue and lilac evoked more of a need to use soft, feminine elements like cream and white lace in the table arrangement.   The last two pictures of the charming "bleeding heart" plant were not taken from the public gardens but were taken in our backyard.  I love the unique heart shape and brilliant pink color of the flower.

Beautiful, aren't they?   The next five pictures are of my other inspiration pieces.  Don't you think the salad plates would also look sweet with denim placemats and distressed white wood chargers too? They each have their own gardening design.

Don't the plates and the teapot bring to mind the alluring setting of a exquisite garden full of radiant flowers and bustling with chirping birds watching over their eggs in their nests and vivid butterflies fluttering from flower to flower?

The little wrapped gift is a bar of homemade lavender soap from an Amish store near our town.  You might remember the white pearl birdcages.  They were used before in the Valentines Day tablesetting.  I made the cream and white lace toppers for them since I thought they would complement the lace-wrapped candle pillar (pictured further below). 

The butterfly napkin rings are Japanese porcelain and have such lovely details.

A cream colored lace-wrapped candle pillar adds more feminine touches.

And again, more detailed butterflies.

And here is the darling teapot and fresh cut daisies and lavender from our garden.  The teapot looks like something out of a children's fairy tale book.

I hope you had an enchanting time!  Visit again when we can stroll through the entire garden together.