summer container

May 25th, 2012 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Outdoor - (0 Comments)

This is a sun-shade container filled with wonderful plants that should bloom all summer. The mainstay is a mandevilla vine, underplanted with fuchsia, ferns, various coleus, begonias, angelonia, sweet flag grass, zinnias, nico vine and ivy.  We stayed in the various pink/purple shades and played with the accent plants to add variety.  The nurseries are filling up with amazing options, new plants coming in every day.  It’s a great time to start planning your summer pots.



recipe: simple side salad

May 24th, 2012 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Salads - (0 Comments)

I was working hard in the land of container gardening today.  It was the perfect weather to be working outdoors… and it does make you hungry!  Tonight dinner needed to be quick and easy, but healthy and satisfying, my energy level was not high.  I did not have time to shop, so I rummaged through my fridge.  I found a container of mini heirloom tomatoes and a block of fresh feta.  So I sliced the tomatoes in half, used about a third of the block of cheese cutting it into cubes, adding 2 cups of fresh arugula from the market.  I love the farmer’s market.  I know I needed something more so I sliced a red onion for the flavor and added chopped green garlic also from the market.  I tossed the salad with red wine vinegar and olive oil, adding a dash of salt and pepper to taste.

This makes a great side salad… but I didn’t stop as I found one ear of corn so of course I cooked and sliced off the kernels to add to my salad.  I also had an avocado that needed to be used so that was chopped up and added to the mix.  I squeezed a tablespoon of lime juice on the salad and served with grilled chicken breast, fresh fruit and pilaf.  I love to improvise from my kitchen.  There were so many things I could have added or just kept this very simple with the feta, tomatoes and arugula.  This is the reason I go to the farmer’s market every Saturday.  My fridge will usually have something from the market that helps bring all my meals together.




May 15th, 2012 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Indoor | Outdoor - (0 Comments)

There is nothing easier than a succulent container.  Once it is planted there is very little watering involved.  They love the sun and heat.  The plants may not give off a wide array of color but the varied textures and shapes as well as the variety of greens with accents of rich dark cranberry make a very interesting container.  I love the patterns and shapes the Hens & Chicks make as well as all the different sedums.  If you haven’t tried this type of container I suggest you do.  You won’t be disappointed and the best part is you can bring this container indoors when the cold weather hits.  Some of my clients are bringing them back outside after spending the winter accenting their indoor spaces.


places to go: baker boys

May 11th, 2012 | Posted by admin in PLACES TO GO - (0 Comments)

It was a full day of planting for customers and shopping for plants at various nurseries.  We were in Ravinia and needed a quick bite of something.  Well… Baker Boys was in the hood so we stopped in.  We decided on a small frozen custard cone, something that would placate my growling stomach and keep me going another 4 hrs.  This is a mini bakery with the biggest flavors… sooooo good!!!

We loved the mint chocolate chip and the red velvet frozen custard.  I was definitely feeling good.  A few hours later my planting partner received a call that she needed to bring something sweet for dinner.  We were heading home from another nursery with a carload of plants.  I suggested she call “Baker Boys” for a dozen mini red velvet cupcakes.  No problem, they needed a 1/2 hr. to frost and box.  So we headed back to sample and talk to the nicest two shop owners.  Two grade school friends opened up this bakery, one a trained pastry chef the other great at frosting mini cupcakes.  The cupcakes were moist and flavorful with an amazing cream cheese frosting… did I forget to mention we sampled while we waited?  The boys invited us back… next time we come in around 5pm we’ll bring a bottle of red and eat chocolate cupcakes!  What could be better?

Stop in, you won’t be disappointed!



Ok so I’m still stuck on rhubarb!  I can’t get enough of this veggie and this is the season.



• 4 cups of fresh strawberries sliced in half
• 4 cups of fresh rhubarb sliced
• 3/4 cups of granulated sugar
• 1 ½ tsp of orange zest
• ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
• 2 tablespoons corn starch
• 1 cup flour
• ¼ cup whole wheat flour
• 1 cup of light brown sugar
• ½ tsp kosher salt
• 1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
• 10 tablespoons of butter diced



• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

• Toss the berries and rhubarb together with ¾ cup of sugar and zest.

• Mix corn starch and orange juice then add to fruit mixture.

• Pour into an 8×11 baking dish.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

• For the topping, combine the flour, remaining brown sugar, salt and oatmeal.  With a           mixer and paddle attachment add in the butter until all the dry ingredients are moist and it   looks like crumbs.

• Sprinkle on top of the fruit, completely covering, and bake for approx 1 hour.

• Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.



recipe: deviled eggs

May 7th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Appetizers | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

This appetizer reminds me of my youth.  A staple treat when appetizer’s seemed to be much simpler.  I really enjoyed revisiting this wonderful egg concoction.  A perfect snack!

This recipe is derived from April Bloomfield’s… most recipes are similar.



• 6 hard boiled eggs peeled
• 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise (You can replace 1 tbsp with Creme Fraiche.)
• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
• 1 tbsp of champagne vinegar
• Dash of kosher salt & freshly ground pepper


• Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, scoop out the yolks into a small food processor.

• Add mayonnaise and blend, then add champagne vinegar, mustard and Crème Fraiche.

• Add salt & pepper to taste.

• Chill the yolk mixture and egg whites for approx. 30 minutes.

• Spoon mixture into each egg white.

• Add chopped green onions, a bit of bacon or chopped chives.

• Sprinkle with cayenne pepper or paprika if you don’t like the heat.





Spring is in the air!  The sky is blue and the flowers are yellow… so why not mirror your table with spring colors.  These beautiful and fun blue dishes paired with a large yellow sunshine flower napkin ring make the perfect table.  Adding a fabulous runner and those great blue glasses complete the look.  All the items can be found at Material Possessions in Winnetka and Chicago.

Have fun with your table!


places to go: smoque

May 2nd, 2012 | Posted by admin in PLACES TO GO - (0 Comments)

I had heard about Smoque for the past several years.  Friends of ours always order out from this barbecue spot and swear by it.  It’s not in our immediate neighborhood so I just haven’t stopped in until last Saturday.  I could smell the meat, the sauce… and I was hungry (not unusual).  We ordered the sliced brisket sandwich, the chopped brisket sandwich, a side of St. Louis Ribs… ohh and the peach cobbler.  We did not intend to eat everything but we couldn’t stop ourselves.  The brisket was tender, moist, with a great barbecue flavor.  The thick barbecue sauce was perfect with a kick to it.  The peach cobbler was good but not as excellent as the ribs and brisket.  Also they have a delicious coleslaw side… I could just order a large dish of that!  I will definitely be back either for a quick meal or take out.


recipe: rhubarb bread

May 1st, 2012 | Posted by admin in Desserts | RECIPES - (0 Comments)

I love spring for many reasons and one is fresh rhubarb.  I am a fan of anything involving this vegetable that really I use as a fruit.  Yesterday I was given a large bunch of fresh rhubarb from the garden.  After work I immediately had to go make something!  My initial thought was strawberry rhubarb pie or crisp.  I wasn’t having guests and I knew if I made either of those desserts I would probably consume most of the calories.  So I decided on bread and muffins.  I could easily freeze the bread (which doesn’t always stop my noshing) and the muffins would make a quick breakfast.

I was intent on making this bread a bit healthier.  So I added and switched a few ingredients.  The rhubarb is the star making this bread moist and sweet with a bit of tartness.  You don’t have to add the topping as the bread is still good without it.


• ½ cup of skim milk
• ½ cup of cream
• 1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice
• 1 ½ cups of brown sugar
• 2/3 cup of vegetable oil
• 1 large egg
• 2 ½ cups of whole wheat flour
• ¼ cup of milled flax seed
• 2 tablespoons of wheat germ
• 1 tsp of salt
• 1 tsp of baking soda
• 2 cups of chopped rhubarb
• ½ cup of chopped walnuts (or pecans)

• ¼ cup of brown sugar
• ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon of butter


• Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

• Grease two 9×5 loaf pans or use muffin tins (I used one loaf pan and had 6 large muffins).

• In a small bowl mix the milk, cream, and lemon juice… set aside for 10 minutes.

• Mix together the brown sugar, vegetable oil, and the egg.

• Combine the dry ingredients, and then mix part of the dry ingredients into the sugar             mixture alternating with the milk mixture until all is combined.

• Put into greased loaf pan or muffin tin.

• Mix the next 3 ingredients and sprinkle the mixture over the unbaked batter.

• Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes for the bread loafs. It takes much less       time for the muffins, approx 20 minutes. Use a toothpick to test; if the center comes out       clean the bread is done.