The Story Behind Mobiles:  Mobiles started as wind chimes and the artist Calder put them on the map as an art form. Besides freedom of movement, a mobile requires precisely balanced elements that communicate with each other, and sensitivity to slight, animating air movements.   Outdoors, a mobile must maintain its responsiveness while coping with extremes of wind, weather and elements; it must float on gentle breezes and ride out coastal gales. And do it all gracefully. Sarabande, the above photo, is a mobile – kinetic art made from copper, bronze and aluminum, standing six feet tall with a six foot radius. Whimsical wind mobiles, like garden sculptures, provide vertical and horizontal contrast — plus movement — to the surrounding perennials. Read More:

Published in Landscaping

Nearly zero-prep time holiday dinner ideas will cut your prep time and not corners. These ideas include presentation.  Imagine eliminating hours of time preparing a holiday meal in record time.  The following ideas will spark your own creativity like subsitiute an Oven Roasted Turkey Breast (see recipe below) or Beef Tenderloin (see recipe below) for Ham. Read and see more, all courtesy of


Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

(serves 8)

 1 bone-in whole turkey breast (4 1/2 to 5 pounds), thawed if frozen
1/2 cup butter melted
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cornstarch - for gravy
2 tablespoons cold water - for gravy


Preheat oven to 325ºF.
Place turkey breast skin side up, in large shallow roasting pan.
Roast uncovered 1 hour.
Mix butter, wine, thyme, salt, paprika and garlic.
Brush turkey with half of the butter mixture.
Roast 30 minutes
Brush with remaining butter mixture.
Roast about 1 hour longer or until thermometer reads 165º F. 
Remove turkey from oven and let stand 15 minutes for easier carving.
For Gravy:
Meanwhile, pour pan drippings into measuring cup; skim fat from drippings.
Add enough water to drippings to measure 2 cups.
Heat drippings to boiling in 1-quart saucepan.
Mix cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water and stir into drippings.
Boil and stir 1 minute.


Easy Beef Tendeloin

1 (5 to 6 lb) beef tenderloin, trimmed 4 lb or untrimmed at 5 to 6 lb

Salt and pepper roast all around

Place in roasting pan. You might need to curve the roast to make it fit.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees

Once the oven reaches temp and stays at temp for ten minutes put roast in oven.

Bake at 500 degrees for ten minutes.

Shut oven off -DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR and continue to cook for 50 minutes.

The key to this recipe is DO NOT OPEN OVEN door.

The roast is to cook for a total of 60 minutes - 10 minutes with oven on at 500 degrees and 50 minutes with oven off not opening the oven door.

(I cannot stress how important it is not to open the door!)

When 60 minutes is up - take roast out of oven let it sit for 5 to ten minutes and then slice to desired thickness.

You will have slices to suit every palatte -meduim rare -to well done.

Serve with a prepared horseradish sauce such as Reese, Ingelhoffer, Boarshead or Coleman and rolls.

Published in Landscaping
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 11:00

17 Holiday Decor Inspirations

For those who have decorating on their to do list, here are 17 wonderful holiday decor inspirations from's Lifestyles Home and Garden section. Inspirations include: garland on staircase, winter dinning table themes, enchanting entrances and more:

Published in Landscaping
Tuesday, 16 December 2014 09:03

Holiday Giving - Great Gifts for Your Pets

We treat our cats and dogs like part of the family, so why not put a ribbon on something stylish and clever for your furry babies this year? For playtime, mealtime or just lounging around, we’ve collected some of the best gifts for cats and dogs from the Houzz Shop and

See and read more:

Published in Landscaping

"Adding Japanese holly fern to your woodland garden is a great way to celebrate the holidays and create lasting memories,"
says Jay Sifford, a Houzz contributor. He continues,  "Many ferns show only brown, lifeless remnants of their former seasonal glory, making the few evergreen fern species even more valuable this time of year. Consider Japanese holly fern its seasonal interest is especially appropriate during the holiday season." Read more:

Published in Landscaping
Thursday, 11 December 2014 10:55

Recipe Thursday - Irish Beef and Stout Stew

Here's a warm up and easy beef stew recipe. 


4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste

2 1/2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed

2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium beef broth

1 can (14.9 ounces) Irish stout beer such as Guinness or Grand Ridge Hatlifter

10 garlic cloves, sliced

Coarse salt and ground pepper

2 boxes (10 ounces each) frozen baby peas, thawed

(You can add 2 inch chunks of carrots it does not change flavors.)



1. Preheat oven to 350. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, toss beef with flour; stir in tomato paste. Add potatoes, onions, broth, beer, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

2. Transfer pot to oven, and cook, covered, until meat is fork-tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in peas, and season with salt and pepper.


 Prep: 25 mins

Total Time: 3 hours

Servings: 10

Courtesy of


Published in Landscaping
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 14:15

Winter Landscaping Tips

Gardeners in snowy regions have plenty of reasons to get cold feet about winter: Plants are at rest and their bright colors dissipate, leaving a palette of white and gray. And with nothing to plant, they might think there are few winter landscaping tips -- or to dos, says Kelly Robertson for Better Homes and Garden. She continues - In fact, careful planning in spring, summer, and fall -- plus a few easy accents during winter -- can lead to a beautiful landscape that shines against the stark relief of the restful season. Learn how to add texture, color, and beauty to your yard with these six simple winter landscaping tips.
Read and See More:

Published in Landscaping

Evergreen trees and shrubs provide structure and color in the winter months — and can attract wildlife too, says Frank Organ, a Houzz Contributor. He continues saying -  A wide range of trees and shrubs extend garden interest beyond springtime blooms, but many of them do not provide year-round appeal. When the colors of autumn fade and our garden’s bare bones become stark in winter’s clear light, hedging can provide that extra bit of seasonal interest.
Read and see more:

Hedge and Evergreens and Boxwood Landscape Ideas, Winnetka, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes


Evergreens in a Formal Landscape Design, Wilmette, IL. Schmechtig Landscapes


Evergreens around pool landscaping, Winnetka, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes


Hedge Ideas in Front Yard Landscaping, Winnetka, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes


Evergreens Front Yard Landscape Ideas, Winnetka, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

Published in Landscaping
Friday, 05 December 2014 10:01

25 Gorgeous Holiday Mantels

Laden with boughs, lights and and more, these decorated fireplace mantels show a festive Christmas spirit and a creative approach.

Get inspired see more:


Published in Landscaping

Easy Cheesy Fondue with Fingerling Potatoes, French Bread and Select Vegetables

12 fingerling potatoes, cut in 1/2, 1-inch baby potatoes may be substituted
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan, plus some for drizzling
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 jigger dry sherry
1 cup half-and-half
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups steamed broccoli florets
1 pound asparagus, trimmed of stems, tips reserved
2 tablespoons fresh chives, snipped or chopped
1/2 French baguette, cubed
12 cherry tomatoes
 Cornichons or baby gherkin pickles
 Marinated mushrooms
 Pickled onions


Cover potatoes with water and bring the water to a boil.

Salt the water and simmer potatoes 10 to 12 minutes, until just tender.

Drain potatoes and return to warm pot to dry the potatoes.

Drizzle potatoes with a little oil to keep them from discoloring and to shine them up.


Fill a second skillet or saucepan with 2 inches of water.

Cover and bring the water to a boil on the stovetop. Salt the water, replace the cover and reduce heat to simmer.


To a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and the chopped shallots.

Saute shallots for 2 or 3 minutes, then add sherry and allow it to almost evaporate, a minute or two.

Add half-and-half to the pan and reduce heat to low.

Cut cream cheese into 1-inch slices and add it to the pot.

Allow the cream cheese to slowly melt into the half-and-half, 5 minutes.

Add Parmesan and shredded Gruyere or Swiss to the sauce and stir until cheese is melted and fully incorporated.

Stir in lemon juice.

Season sauce with, nutmeg and black pepper.

Place a candle underneath a wire rack or warm a fondue pot.

Transfer cheese sauce to fondue pot or place saucepan over wire rack and burning candle.


To simmering salted water, add broccoli and cook florets, covered, 3 minutes.

Remove broccoli with a slotted spoon to a plate and add asparagus tips.

Cook asparagus tips 2 minutes, then remove with tongs to a plate.

Arrange the items for dipping on a large serving platter.

Garnish the cooked potatoes with chives.

Set the cubed baguette on the opposite end of the platter, to balance color.

Between potatoes and bread, arrange cooked broccoli, asparagus and cherry tomatoes.

Set out fondue forks or bamboo skewers for dipping.

Place small dishes of cornichons, marinated mushrooms and pickled onions near dipping station for accompaniments.

Total Time: 40 min
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 20 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray and

Published in Landscaping
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