Tuesday, 19 November 2013 11:59

Green Roof Myths - BUSTED!

"Leaky, costly, a pain to maintain ... nope, nope and nope", say's Mariana Pickering, Houzz Contributor. Get the truth about living roofs and see examples from simple to elaborate. http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/18654022?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u388&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery8


Published in Landscaping

The onset of this week's cold weather brought me back to my childhood when Mom and Grandma made my favorite soup.


•2 large garlic cloves, minced

•2 tablespoons olive oil

•1 cup chopped onion

•12 cups chicken broth

• 1 ½ pound of escarole, washed very well and cut or torn into 1 inch-wide strips or 1 inch pieces

•4 large eggs

•3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

•1/4 teaspoon(s) coarsely fresh ground black pepper



In a covered saucepan cook the garlic in the oil over medium heat, stirring, until it turns to a pale golden.

Add the onion, and cook the mixture, stirring, until onion is softened.

Add the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil.

Add the escarole (don't worry it cooks down) and stir and simmer 5 minutes until escarole is wilted and tender.

In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk eggs, Romano cheese, and pepper until combined.

Drizzle egg mixture from measuring cup/small bowl into saucepan of simmering soup, gently stirring just until egg shreds are set.

Serve immediately.

Top each individual bowl with fresh grated Pecorino Romano Cheese.

Makes 10 cups of soup.

Accompany the soup with hot out of the oven italian bread or grain bread with butter or olive oil dip and a salad with the following ingredients tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing: Romaine lettuce, Endive, Hearts of palm, Olives - Kalamata – pitted or your favorite olive, Chickpeas, top each individual salad with chopped Campari Tomatoes or Sweet Grape Tomatoes.


Published in Landscaping
Tuesday, 12 November 2013 11:36

Autumn Colors and Wreaths

Erika Johnson, editorial contributor and lifestyle blogger based near Boston shares her picks. Consider crowning your front door with berries, foliage, pinecones and other decorative touches for the fall and upcoming holiday season.



Published in Landscaping
Tuesday, 05 November 2013 10:40

Gather around the Fire

Thanksgiving is approaching and a perfect element to draw your family and friends of all ages together or to set the mood as you look out your window or patio doors is an outdoor fire feature.  Here are some ideas:


Winnetka, IL Schmechtig Landscapes



Barrington, IL. Schmechtig Landscapes



Schaumburg, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes and HGTV project


Published in Landscaping
Thursday, 31 October 2013 08:28

Chewy Pecan Squares

I have chosen this week's Recipe Thursday from Laurie Bakke's Kitchen. She is a dear freind, fabulous chef, and has a wonderful cookbook. A great holiday gift idea! Enjoy.  - http://lauriebakkeskitchen.com/

Chewy Pecan Squares


Crust1 1/4 lbs. Unsalted Butter - at room temperature

3/4 C. Sugar - granulated

3 Eggs - large

3/4 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

4 1/2 C. All-Purpose Flour*

1/2 tsp. Baking Powder

1/4 tsp. Salt*


1 lb. Unsalted Butter

1 C. Honey - wildflower

3 C. Light Brown Sugar - packed

1/4 C. Heavy Cream2 lbs. Pecans - coarsely chopped



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.For the crust, beat the butter and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes.  Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined.  Remove from the mixer.Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18x12x1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. The dough will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour until the dough is spread out very evenly throughout the entire sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned.  Allow to cool completely.For the topping, combine the butter, honey and brown sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan.  Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir.  Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes.  It is very important to cook for the 3 minutes, as this is bringing the boiled mixture to a candy-like consistency.  Remove from the heat.  Carefully stir in the heavy cream and pecans.  The mixture will rise up, so be prepared to stir until the mixture starts coming together.Pour the mixture over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set.  It does cook after the squares come out of the oven.  Keep this in mind when taking out of the oven.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate into cold.  Cut into bars and serve.

Laurie's Notes

*I prefer unbleached flour over bleached because I have found that bleached flour sometimes carries off-flavors and can taste flat.

*Use non-iodized salt since iodized salt can have a chemical taste.

*This makes a large recipe and can be divided by two for a smaller amount, if desired.

Published in Landscaping

"Showy color during snow season? You bet. These shrubs will wake up a garden with colorful berries when other plants are asleep", says Kim Gamel,

Houzz Contributor. Schmechtig Landscapes couldn't agree more!  Read more:



Published in Landscaping
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 07:35

Living Walls - grow your own privacy

"We like to think of our home as our castle, a secure and private place where we can escape from the world.  And although we can't all build moats around our homes, we can employ plants to enclose and screen our private worlds. Unlike architectural structures, plants also contribute color, texture, fragrance and movement that change with the seasons and help us mark time and appreciate nature's rhythms. Use living walls to lower your home and garden's exposure while boosting natural beauty in your landscape." says Jocelyn H Chilvers, a Houzz Contributor, read more at http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/18901952?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u377&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery12


Published in Landscaping
Monday, 14 October 2013 07:14

New Colors for Your Fall Planters

According to Kim Gamel, a Houzz Contirbutor, "why not take a break from the same old orange, red and yellow plants and enjoy some fresh colors in your pots this fall.  Fall containers can look just as stunning and seasonal without the traditional red, orange, yellow and brown. Simply using annuals and perennials that naturally shine this time of year will allow you to think outside the fall color box." Read more: http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/18563194/list?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u371&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery8


Published in Landscaping
Thursday, 10 October 2013 08:23

Granola - A Laurie Bakke's Kitchen Recipe

Here's another great fall and holiday recipe from my friend Laurie Bakke's Kitchen. Explore more of Laurie's great recipes and her cookbook at http://lauriebakkeskitchen.com/

Homemade Granola


4 C. - Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats

1/2 C. - Toasted Wheat Germ

2 C. - Unsalted Sliced Almonds

1/2 C. - Unsalted Pumpkins Seeds

1/2 C. - Unsalted Sunflower Seeds

3/4 C. - Vegetable Oil or Canola Oil

1/2 C. - Wildflower Honey (Wildflower, Orange etc.)

1 t.- Vanilla Extract

1 t.- Ground Cinnamon

1/4 t. - Ground Nutmeg

1 t. Kosher Salt

1 C. - Dried Cranberries

1 C. - Dried Cherries or combination with Dried Blueberries



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss the oats, wheat germ, almonds, and seeds. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir until all the oats and nuts are coated.

Pour onto a baking pan or sheet pan.

Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until all the mixture turns a nice and even golden brown - for about 45 minutes.

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool - stirring occasionally add the dried fruits. Store the granola in an airtight container.

For the holiday's: when ready to package for a gift, the granola can be put in old-fashioned jars of any size, a craft bag with a window to see through or a clear bag all tied with cute ribbon and a label.

Makes 10 to 12 cups

Chef Tip: If your oven cooks fast, lower the temperature to 300 degrees and stir every 10 minutes. The granola need to be watched very carefully not to get to brown. Otherwise, the recipe is very easy to make. You can substitute your favorite nuts or dried fruits to your own individual preference.

Published in Landscaping
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 07:58

6 Trees To Plant Now

"Autumn is the perfect time for planting these trees", says Therese Ciesinski, a Houzz contributor and former managing editor of Organic Gardening magazine. We agree with Therese and her selection of trees, read more...



Published in Landscaping
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