The Best Food Books of 2013

Forty years ago a young anthropology graduate student named Merry White published a book of recipes she'd used as in the catering jobs she worked to put herself through school. The book was accidental: A publisher saw the sheaf of recipes she'd left lying around, and commissioned a young artist he knew to do black-and-white drawings in the frizzy style that would be come a trademark when Ed Koren became one of The New Yorker's best-known contributors.

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Granger the Goldendoodle's, Must Have Holiday List!

This was a tough list to come up with this year. There are so many things that we love & use everyday but we managed to narrow the list down to the most important items. As you will notice, the list is a little heavy on "toys".  

If you love something on this list, or know of an item that should be on next year's list, drop me a note in the comments!

1. I call this our "do not disturb" vest. Granger is a very submissive, fearful dog. Unfortunately, when you look as cute as she does, everyone wants to pet you. So the only solution that works, is to put this vest on her when she is out in public. It works. Granger is able to get the training & socialization she needs without the baby-talk from strangers & touch-feely from kids.

2. Martingale Collar. This collar was introduced to Granger by a trainer that I respect. Granger was a leash puller & I was having trouble keeping control. This was just what I needed. I ONLY USE THIS COLLAR FOR TRAINING. Petsmart

3. Training Videos. The best training videos. Zak George's Dog Training Revolution. YouTube. I also "bell potty" trained Granger using this wonderful video: Dogtrainer01

4. I needed a water-proof collar. Granger swims almost everyday. Those really cute fashionable collars start smelling rank real fast. So, I bought her this bright orange hunting plastic collar from the local feed store. Well, Granger's BBF, would not stand for it. He sent her this collar. She wears it everyday & it is amazing & stylish to boot! No more mildew collar smell. Dublin Collars

5. Not only does Granger wear a vet rabies tag, she also wears a microchip tag & a personal ID tag. How cool would it be to have one of these scan codes on a tag? That way, someone could pull up all Granger's information in one touch of a smartphone's button. I need to get one of these: PetQRTag

6. I love Kate & her giving heart. She makes the most wonderful paracord collars, bracelets, leashes….you name it! She also custom makes everything so you can pick colors, charms, NFL teams, support causes…the sky is the limit. Granger has a Texan Paracord collar & every game day we get it out for her to wear & represent! Like Kate on her Facebook site to order.

7. Dingo Bones. Say what you want about rawhide. However, I've never had an issue with this brand of bones. My dogs go nuts for these bones & get one every night for a treat. Yes, EVERY NIGHT! Dingo Brand

8. Bully Sticks. Just don't ask where they came from. I promise you don't want to know. But if you want to keep a dog quite & busy, then this is your treat. Best Bully Sticks

9, 10, & 14. Chuckit Balls & Launcher. BEST BALLS EVER!!!!!!!!!! I can't explain it but once you buy them, you will understand. This is like crack to my dog. 

11 & 13. I just discovered this toy. Granger has not torn them up YET, so the verdict is still out. However, she LOVES the squeaky & plays with these quite often. I have a hard time finding them in the stores, so I am going to assume others like them too! Hartz Dura Play

12. The only toy that has not been totally destroyed. And this toy still keeps her attention. That's what we call a win-win in my house. Katie's Bumbers

I will conclude this list with one other request. Please do not forget about all the homeless animals during the holiday season. Please consider donating, fostering or volunteering.  I love Goldendoodles, so I am a foster volunteer with IDOG. You can read about my first foster dog here: 

**be sure to scroll down & read from the beginning**

Happy Holiday Friends!
& Stella

Soup Night by Maggie Stuckey

Soup Night
by Maggie Stuckey
Storey Publishing

It's finally cold in Houston. So, this book is perfect for the season. Thank you Storey for including me on your review list. You publish the most amazing books!

From Storey:
Soup brings people together. And when neighbors share, they get to know each other in new and wonderful ways. In this cookbook with a special personality, Maggie Stuckey not only shares 99 recipes for soup, and 40 more recipes for accompaniments, most contributed by the groups profiled in the book, but explains how readers can start their own neighborhood soup nights. The book profiles soup nights established in a variety of locations, including urban centers, churches, and community centers, and offers cooking tips and soup night organizational hints. - See more at: Storey

Here is what I made from the Book…

Sweet Corn Chowder
recipe from Elizabeth Newland

photo 2

5 bacon strips, diced
1 small leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 t fresh time or 1/2 t dried
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups milk
2 cups cream
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1. Brown the bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat until crisp, 5-7 minutes. Drain off all but 2 T of the bacon fat.
2. Add the leek, thyme & salt/pepper to taste to the pot and sauté until the leek is softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the potatoes, milk and cream, and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Simmer (do not boil) until the potatoes are tender.
4. Add the corn and continue to simmer until the corn is tender, about 4 minutes for fresh or 7 minutes for frozen.
5. Stir in bacon at the end (NOT IN RECIPE!!)
6. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6


Southern Living: No Taste Like Home by Kelly Alexander

No Taste Like Home
Southern Living
by Kelly Alexander
Oxmoor House

There really is no place like home. If you grew up in the south, then you know of a none truer statement. I grew up in Alpharetta, GA, so my journey starts in The Heart of Dixie on page 10. Not only does this cookbook offer a culinary history by region but Atlanta is in this book for Smoky Pimiento Cheese Deviled Eggs, Tandoori Fried Chicken, Baked Vidalia Onion Dip, Chili Slaw Dogs, Coca-Cola Cake,  & Mittie Cumbie Wade's Sour Cream Pound Cake. 

These are not my Grandmother Tucker's recipes but recipes with roots as deep as Oak trees planted in red clay. The modern interpretations make them table ready for today's families.

Put this book on your Christmas Shopping List. It will make a wonderful gift!!

The recipe from the book I tried: Coca- Cola Cake with Coke Frosting.

Southern Living Coca Cola Cake Recipe

Southern Living Coca Cola Cake Recipe

And here is a photo of the finished product {photo source}

From the Publisher:
There's no region of the country more cherished and unique when it comes to food than the South. Southerners celebrate our food traditions. They are totems of our collective identity. Our grits, our fried chicken, our sweet tea, our butterbeans, our biscuits: These are powerful symbols of not just of Southern tastes but also of Southern values, of the kind of simple, honest-to-goodness home cooking, prepared with generosity of spirit and served up with generosity of ladle. These recipes are what distinguish and bind Southern culture. No Taste Like Home embraces the cultural identity of towns large and small all throughout the South and provides readers with recipes, stories, and highlights of all the unique regional flavors -- from the Heartland of Dixie to Cajun Country, from The Coastal South to Bluegrass, Bourbon and BBQ Country and all points in between.

Organized geographically, the cookbook focuses on each of 6 regions in the South. Every chapter will include highlights of specific towns and contain essays describing, literally, the flavor of the place. The highlighted towns will offer multiple recipes as well as musings from notable locals, and "locally famous" chefs. 
  • Just some of the recurring editorial features include:
    a travelogue introduction discussing regional specialties and folklore
  • Standout recipes from local chefs and "almost famous" home cooks
  • Musings from locals about their town
  • "Hometown Flavor" features on Southern iconic ingredients that are commonly used in the regional cuisine
  • "What We're Craving" features highlighting a local restaurant or town-specific dish that locals crave when they're not at home
  • "Local Know-how" features of insider secrets from the locals, from how to pick the freshest produce, to the best way to prepare their own recipes


Beautiful Inspirational Back Splashes #Kitchen Backsplashes

Hello, everyone!

It's Mari here.

I'm so happy to be with you at BeachBrights today with a guest post from Arcadian Home blog. It's a fantastic place to find interior design inspiration including great decorating ideas for everything from beautiful Torchiere Lamps to colorful decorative accessories.

Today we're going to take a little tour of kitchens with backsplashes to love. We hope you'll be inspired by one or more of these gorgeous backsplashes. From pure white subway tile to amazing color and pattern in granite, there's something for every taste. Please enjoy!

Thanks for letting me visit for a while.

~ Mari

1 Backsplash

This wall to wall and countertop to ceiling backsplash is quite amazing in its colors of the sea--from pale seaglass blue to deep blue green. Modern pendant lights with a glammed-up industrial look hang from the lofty wood board ceiling.

2 Backsplash
2. Nest Interior Design

Tiny glass subway tiles in pale ocean blues and gleaming mother of pearl and metallic gold are used to create this awesome backsplash.

3 Backsplash
3. The House that A-M Built

If this amazing backsplash had been done in shades of gold, we would call it a sunburst. Since itís created from clear, frosty and white cut glass tiles, what should it be called? Perhaps we should just say stunning and leave it there.

4 Backsplash
4. Susan Serra

Subtle variations in shades of blue in these white-grouted subway tiles give this backsplash depth and beauty. It looks perfect with the white cabinets and sparkly mosaic tile inset.

5 Backsplash
5. Walker Zanger

Stone subway tile in white with gray striations goes from counter to ceiling and creates a serene look in this white on white kitchen. Just a single splash of blue pattern adds a nice touch at the window.

6 Backsplash
6. Custom Made

Dark teal glass tiles are used to create a backsplash that contrasts beautifully with turquoise cabinets and bead board wall in a slightly paler hue.

7 Backsplash
7. Design Sponge

The homeowner created the ceramic tiles for this intriguing backsplash and cabinet handles in the kitchen of the family's apartment above her ceramics studio. What great color and pattern!

8 Backsplash
8. Cultivate

From Brazil and called blue luise, this granite creates a stunning backsplash. The color and pattern, with a little help from kitchen lights, mimic sunshine on stormy ocean waves of contradiction yes, but still a gorgeous effect.

Images 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

What do you think of these backsplashes? Leave us your thoughts below, and stop by our blog for more home decor, mini pendant lighting, and interior inspirations!

Thank you Mari for some excellent inspiration!!

#Galveston Beach House Remodel

If your dreams don't scare you... by koreen

I went and bought a beach house. Not just any beach house but one that is going to require a ton of work. Like the kind of work I have never done before. This poor house has seen better days & my goal is to breathe new life into this sweet little beachfront cottage. This is going to be my new story...I can't wait to share the work with you!

Big plans ahead...

Here she is in her sad, neglected state.

(Street View)

(Backyard View)

(Open Living Room - Kitchen - Dining Room)

(1 of 2 Bedrooms)

(1 of 2 Bathroom, I am Adding an Additional Bathroom)

(Bunk Room)


I will be moving walls, replacing pilings, new deck, new windows, fixing wood rot, leveling the house, gutting the interior & adding a laundry room & bathroom. The house will be a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom + a bunk room. I will furnish & hopefully add a downstairs storage room & bar before the rental season starts in March. Whew. This house is in my prayers nightly ;)

I'll be getting help from this great guy.
Immaculate Painting & Construction

And I can't give enough props to this great Realtor.
Sand 'N Sea


Salad in a Jar

I am not inventing the wheel or even improving it. Everything I have learned has come from Paula Rhodes @ Paula has done every experiment known to man with these salads & jars. I just copied what she did...Paula deserves all props.

Here's my video on what I do to create a healthy, grab & go lunch for everyday.

Here's what I bought:

**these are what I use

Good Luck & Email Me if you have any specific questions. I'll try to help!


The Evolution on My Design {Rosemary Beach Florida Rental}

I started with this...


Then I went to this...

Cottage Living, Dining & Kitchen



Max's Gray Bathroom

Super Bowl Sunday is for playing on Polyvore & Pinterest!


Max's Bathroom

Max's Bathroom by beachbrights on Polyvore


Guest Bedroom {Before and After}

I have so much to blog about....unfortunately, life has been filling up my free time. Honestly, I would not have it any other way. I like to think that I have a creative life now; full of friendships, community & family. So, the creative blogging has become less a priority. One that I miss but one that I would not trade for the world. 

Please keep checking back with me. I promise to clue you in on some exciting "before & after" pictures, great style finds & some good'ol DIY!!

Here's my guest bedroom that is anything but white. I branched out a bit & shook out some color ;)


Beachbrights Guest Bedroom Before


Beachbrights Guest Bedroom4

Beachbrights Guest Bedroom3

Beachbrights Guest Bedroom

Beachbrights Guest Bedroom Shopping Guide


Come be my guest??