Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The two most beautiful words

Summer afternoon--summer afternoon; 
to me those have always been the two most
beautiful words in the English language.

--Henry James, as quoted by Edith Wharton

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Insalata di fagioli cannellini means...

...the perfect meal for a hot summer evening.

Okay,actually it means Cannellini Bean Salad. But no matter how you translate it, this is a wonderful dish for a hot humid humid night like the one we're having here on Cape Cod. It's a very good antipasto or side dish, but to make it a main dish, just arrange sharp, bitter arugula on a platter. In the middle, place either a good-quality Italian tuna or slices of cold roasted chicken. Circle with the bean mixture,and serve with a hearty bread to soak up the dressing (this is where you imitate what they say in the movie Julie and JuliaYUM!).

You'll find that this dish is light, healthy and delicious. It's easy to make, and you won't have to heat up the kitchen to put a lovely meal on the table. Please (I beg you) serve it as Italians do, at room temperature, and you'll see that it does translate into "perfect dinner for a summer night!"

Buon appetito!

Italian Cannellini Bean Salad

Ingredients for salad:
2 cans (15-16-ounce) cannellini beans (or other small white beans)
1 small red onion, sliced in half, then sliced fine
1/2 cup white vinegar for soaking onion (to be discarded)
2 stalks of celery, diced fine
1 small red pepper, diced small
12-15 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup parsley, minced
1/3 cup scallions, sliced small

Ingredients for dressing:
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 to 2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil

Rinse and drain beans in a colander.
Slice red onion. Separate onion slices, place in small bowl, and cover with white vinegar for 15 minutes.
Prep other vegetables and herbs; add everything but tomatoes to mixing bowl, and combine gently with beans.

Drain onions, discard vinegar, and fold onions and tomatoes gently with beans.
Prepare vinaigrette, adjusting the oil/vinegars ratio to your taste.
Add salt and peper to taste.
Drizzle over salad, and toss lightly Serve on bed of greens.

Best if prepared at least an hour before. 
Serve at room temperature

Are you visiting from a link party below?
It's so SWEET (dolce)  of you to come see this little bit of Cape Cod!
I'd really love it if you tell me who you are, and where
you're visiting from. Thanks!




Keeping it Simple

 The DIY Show Off

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I'm in love with Lindsey! And Stella & Dot, too (of course)!

I want to tell you about the wonderful start I've just had to my Wednesday.

It's a-raining  here on Olde Cape Cod, and the drama of lightening flashes and thunder rumbles woke me up a little earlier than my usual 5:30 alarm. I got right up, and came downstairs to  unplug my television and laptop. The Cape is well-known for electrical surges, and even with surge protectors, I can't afford to lose a major appliance!

I made my coffee, then sat down to read my e-mails, starting with a post from Living With Lindsey. The fabulous Lindsey is one of my faves. Her blog's tagline is " Creating a beautiful home -- one glue gun burn at a time." Really, need I say more? Lindsey is both self-deprecatingly funny and extraordinarily instructive. She's the Baroness of Burlap (check out her burlap covered lamp shade!) She started the whole silhouette craze.

And who brought her tutorial on the enchanting book wreath to Blogdom? Yes, Lindsey.

So, as a loyal admirer, you can certainly bet that I was right there when Lindsey announced a wonderful giveaway from jewelers Stella & Dot.

Okay, I was in love. Enthralled. Enchanted. 

What gorgeous, gorgeous feminine jewelry. And so my style -- playful yet classic. And so, so darn pretty. As Lindsey says, I want everything. So I was delighted with a chance to win a bit of Stella & Dot.

Well, imagine me here. Rain. Coffee. Laptop. Opened my Living With Lindsey post. 

Oh, yes, there's the bee-chanting Stella & Dot Boca Necklace. 

So pretty. Wonder who won that giveaway?  Kept reading. 

Lindsey's having ANOTHER Stella  Dot giveaway at her Girl's Night In party with S&D stylist Abby Light. Nice. Gee, wonder who won the other giveaway. Read on

Love, love, love that Sofia Pearl Necklace Bib and the earrings with it. Wonder who won the JEWELRY?

Let's see, here it is. The winner is....

Omg, omg, omg! Jude from Dolce Cape Cod!


As you can tell, I am utterly thrilled. Thank you Lindsey, and thank you Abby. 

You know what? This is the BEST rainy Wednesday morning EVER!!!

Lots of love and big, very appreciative wave from Cape Cod,

Monday, June 21, 2010

Time to think small!

I'm a little overwhelmed this week, so I've decided for right now, I'm going to think small…

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, small, but valuable. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.
-- Kathleen Kelly, in “You’ve Got Mail.”

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
--Mother Teresa

“What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.”

Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves.”
--Dale Carnegie

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
--Helen Keller

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.”
--Sally Koch

“Great acts are made up of small deeds.”
--Lao Tzu

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What a Basket Case!

I think it's been pretty well established that I am the Contessa di Terrible Painters, right?

And, yes, we have discussed the concept of rubber gloves. It's hopeless.

With such demonstrable  ineptitude, it's rather ironic that several of my recent tutorials have included painting techniques. After thinking this over, it seems to me that distressed finishes suit the fact that I'm a perfectionist who has absolutely no hope of ever achieving a perfect paint job. On the other hand, with my background in marketing, I'm perfectly (hee) able to rationalize anything - and with shabby and distressed finishes being so au courant, that makes it a piece of cake to find excuses for my lousy finish work.

Uneven coverage? Yeah, I planned that so it would look old. Missed spot? Uh-huh, you're seeing the distressed finish. Streaks and drips? Why, thank you, that's a shabby chic white wash.  (This talent for rationalization is why many people like to shop with me -- I can find a variety of exceptional reasons to buy or not buy -- just let  me know which side you want me to argue.).

And so, I offer the following tutorial in transforming an inexpensive unfinished basket into a fine, handcrafted antique (sorta). I bought a typically light-colored basket for a dollar at the St. Joan of Arc Thrift Shop in Orleans. I'll going to bet it originally came from the Christmas Tree Shops, and it's modeled along the style of the famous Nantucket Baskets like the ones in this photo.

Of course, the knockoff I found doesn't come close to the real deal, and the light color doesn't help. There's no character, no experience. And that starfish glued on the side. Ya-ick.  Now, I certainly can't recreate an actual  lighthouse basket (and, gosh, you'd rightfully pay handsome prices for either true antique baskets or  handcrafted contemporary baskets). I can, however, show you how to faux-age your new purchase to show a bit more personality and distinction.

New basket

New basket after antiquing

Here's my tutorial on how I did it. We won't cover how I got the starfish off. I didn't need that fingernail anyway.

Antiquing a cheap new basket
by Jude at www.dolcecapecod.blogspot.com
Gather your tools and materials
Inexpensive unfinished basket
Wood stain in a desired finish 
(I used several and mixed them)
Black paint
Lemon oil or beeswax
Sponge paint brushes
Paint stirrer
Several small containers for paint
Several rags
Paper towels

Step One
Mix the stain with a small amount of water until it's the consistency of paint.

With the sponge brush, cover the entire basket, inside and out with the stain mixture, trying your best to get into all the crevices. You want to cover as much of the basket's woven strips and get as much into the woven areas as possible. 

Step Two
Let the basket dry several hours, then repeat the staining process. 

 You can use a different shade of stain if you like. 


Step Three
Pour a small amount of black paint in a container, and add a bit of water. Stir well.

Soak one rag in water, and wring it out so it's just damp.
Bunch rag up in your hand, and dip it in the black paint mixture. Dab it on a dry rag or paper towel to remove the excess, and wipe it across the surface and edges of the basket. Use the dry rag to blend and burnish the paint into the surface.

Do you think the handles of an old basket would get darkened over the years? I think you're right! That's why I made sure to concentrate on those areas, going back over it several times with the blackening paint. I also made all the edges as dark as I could.

Now, listen! The lathing strips for these cheap imported baskets are not made from a high quality wood. Even if you were trying to create a perfect finish, it wouldn't be possible. You'll see that some areas seem to soak up lots of color, and others seem to say, "Uh, no thanks." But that's what happens with aged wood, anyway, and that's what makes this so easy, so fun and so darn infallible. The imperfection is the perfect finish!

Okay, enough about imperfection and back to the tutorial.

Step Four
Let the basket dry thoroughly. Apply a liberal coating of beeswax or lemon oil, and buff it in well according to the instructions on the container.

 I used an old shoe polisher to buff.

 And since the "Nantucket Basket" was still drying, in this photo, I'm giving a fresh coat of bees wax to a basket I antiqued last fall.
This final step gives a warm patina, and oh, boy, it smells divine. Your friends will catch the scent of citrus and beeswax, and exclaim, "Oooh, that's so old." (Well, I'm thinking they'll exclaim something like that...)

Here's the finished Faux Nan-basket. Hope you like it!
Oh, gee, were you worried about the poor innocent starfish I tore off the side? It's fine!

Did you buzz over from a great party like the one below?
Glad to have you - and it's so sweet to read your message!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Death to Goldfinger!

I'm the worst painter in the world.

You know that scene in Love, Actually, where Laura Linney is at a wedding debating whether someone is a the worst DJ in the world? And then the DJ plays yet another terrible song, and she says, "That's it. The worst DJ in the world."

That's me, only with painting. Friends, family and hardware store guys all tell me I can do it, then when they see what I've done, they say, "That's it. You're the worst painter in the world."

Okay, maybe that's my imagination, and they're just thinking it, but trust me, I'm the queen of drips and bare streaks. I step in paint buckets. I destroy clothing and leave paint marks everywhere. Not to mention that when I spray paint, I'm Miss Goldfinger. Or Greenfinger. Or (shudder here, remembering the Unfortunate Lawn Chair Incident) Miss Pinkfinger. For a week.

That's all behind me now. I have a new Painting Buddy.

Isn't he wonderful? He doesn't even seem to mind that I've already messed him up.

This little guy was less than $5.00 at Home Depot. He slips over the top of the spray paint can, and instead of spraying by pushing down on the spray nozzle from the top, you just squeeze the handle, which naturally provides better control and a smoother result.

Um, of course, you need to make sure you turn the opening so it's next to the nozzle hole. Otherwise, the paint will spray inside the attachment, and a drizzle of green will come out and get all over your hand. And your arms. And your knee. Both knees, to tell the truth.
 Look what he helped me do.

This is the best paint job I've ever done. Smooth, with no streaks!(Okay, now that I'm looking, this pic is from the first coat...but seriously, the second coat looked great. Really. I mean it.)

I may be one of the last people on earth to know about this neat gadget, but I told my cousin about it yesterday, and she'd never heard of it, so I thought I'd share. If you're doing any spray painting this summer, get one of these.

Are you linking to me from a fabulous party?
How sweet of you; thanks for coming!

Women who do it all -- Idea sharing #11

Funky Junk Interiors SNS