Fabulous Tobi Fairley Giveaway

Congratulations to Marilyn Herdon! She is the randomly selected winner of Tobi’s St. Nick Pillow. Woot woot!

Designer Tobi Fairley joins us today on my blog to spread some holiday cheer with a special giveaway – a pillow from her Saint Nick collection.

Hello, friends and fans of Allen!

Over at my blog, I’m giving thanks for all sorts of wonderful things in my life: people, places, opportunities, experiences, transformations, and more. I am so grateful for wonderful friends like Allen, with whom I can share big ideas about design, entertaining, food, and the outdoors! Another HUGE part of my gratitude is for the pleasure of giving, so I want to give something special to one of you this week to kick-off your holiday season!

If you leave a comment on this post telling Allen and me what you’re giving thanks for this week, you’ll be entered to win one of my Tobi Fairley Home pillows from the Saint Nick collection! The winner will be selected by random draw on Wednesday 12/05/12.

Sometimes an accent pillow is ALL it takes to make a sofa or chair festive and fun for the holiday season!

Find more inspiration from my Pinterest board: Holiday Treats & Decor

(like this sweet pic…)

Best of luck!

Xo,

Say Happy Thanksgiving with Brussels Sprouts

Thanksgiving is the big holiday for my family- no matter where we host it, we’re all in a frenzy of activity. The kids are playing in the yard, uncles and aunts are enjoying the fire, and my cousins, siblings and I are busy catching up while also putting the finishing touches on lunch. When we finally sit down at the table, though, it’s hard to talk to everyone during lunch because everyone in my family loves to eat.

I find that it just takes one recipe to bridge the gap between the adult and kid’s table, though. Desserts are always a good go-to, but last year I tried fresh Brussels sprouts. I know what you’re thinking- “my kids would never eat Brussels sprouts!” But try this recipe and I bet you’ll be surprised just how many members of your family ask for seconds.

Tarragon Pimiento Brussels Sprouts

Heritage Apples Welcome Autumn

Do you want more information on heritage apples? Check out my column in this month’s AY Magazine. Click here to read it online.

 

This time of year sends my senses into a whirlwind. I love how so many of the sights, sounds and smells around me proudly announce autumn’s arrival. Heritage apples are the perfect example- come November, their colors are bright, their taste is crisp and fresh, and their smell… well, there is nothing better than the smell of baking apples wafting through the house.

 

The week leading up to Thanksgiving is one in which I don’t spend much time cooking, but I couldn’t help throwing together this 5-ingredient Apple Tart Tatin recipe yesterday. It is quick and easy to make, and I might even add it to the Thanksgiving menu because it certainly gets me in the mood for the holidays.

Ingredients

1 pre-made piecrust

1/2 cup sugar in the raw

6 apples, peeled cored and quartered

7 ounces butter

3/4 cup sugar

Instructions

In a heavy, oven safe, 9-inch skillet combine 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup sugar in the raw with 7 ounces of butter. Cook over a medium high heat until amber in color and brown around the edges. This should take about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat and carefully circle the apple wedges around the skillet positioning them so they all face in the same direction. Place the apples as tightly together as possible because they will shrink during cooking.

Top the apples with a round pie crust that overlaps the skillet by about 1/2 inch all around. Fold the crust overlap toward the center. Push the edge of the pie crust down into the skillet with a rubber spatula or something similar to seal all the apple goodness inside. Cut 3 or 4 vent holes in the top of the crust.

Bake in the pre-heated 350 degree F oven for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the skillet from the oven and cool. Place a dish at least 1-inch larger in diameter than the skillet on top of the skillet. Carefully flip the tart to where the pie crust is now on the bottom with the plate.

 

Rachel Ashwell Talks Roundtop, Texas

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

Don’t worry if you can’t find a one-horse open sleigh, just be sure to get out of the house and into the spirit of Christmas! Whether you’re heading south like a snowbird or traveling to be with family for the holidays, Christmas travel is certainly more than just a destination. I spend more time than usual perusing antiques during the holidays, and Round Top, Texas, is one of my favorite places to do so.

Round Top is known for its antique fairs, held each January, April, June, and October, but the small town has a plethora of arts-and-crafts and antiquing activity throughout the year. One woman who has made her mark on Round Top is Rachel Ashwell, international designer and creator of Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture.

Ashwell’s style gained popularity through her London, New York, and Los Angeles stores, where she sells her designs—pieces that evoke a sense of the past with a fresh, clean look. She had been traveling to the treasure trove of Round Top for seven years when a familiar bed-and-breakfast property became available. Ashwell jumped at the opportunity, refinished the house in her own style, and dubbed it “The Prairie.” It’s a space that she fondly calls “a magical bubble” and now rents out to fellow antique hunters in Round Top. She loves it so much that she stays there when in town, all the while managing her international Shabby Chic Couture business.

I reached Ashwell (RA) in London, and she took the time to answer a few of my design questions about what she calls the flea market capital of the world … and this is coming from a woman who has shopped in many parts of the globe.
P. Allen Smith (PAS)

PAS: Round Top is quite a departure from your other locations. How is your style enhanced or altered by location, especially a place as unique as Round Top?

RA: Even though I am a London girl who has lived in Malibu, I have always had an attraction for the country western aesthetic and culture. Jeans, cowboy boots, and country music have been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

PAS: The Prairie sounds like the perfect canvas for you!

RA: Many people have a preconceived idea that Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture aesthetics is all about white, pink flowers, and chandeliers, which of course is my signature. The Prairie allows me to demonstrate the versatility of my aesthetics:

PAS: You’ve created so much in Round Top; what are you most proud of?

RA: Making The Prairie home for myself and all those I love brings me great pride. When I bought the property (formerly The Outpost Inn), I inherited the owner’s labor of love, and this legacy continues through The Prairie by the love and labor of all involved.

PAS: With that much going on at The Prairie, what does a typical day in Round Top look like for you?

RA: Up at 6:30, then 10,000 steps around the fields with Pearl the dog. At 8 a.m. I get my chef Danny’s  yummy yummy breakfast, where I meet and greet guests. By 9 a.m. I jump in the timeworn, open-topped Jeep with my associates and shop and shop and shop, stopping for food and drinks and chats on the way.

PAS: What are some of your favorite places to eat, drink, and relax in Round Top?

RA: My favorite place to eat is in our own backyard with Danny cooking barbecue, listening to music, taking in the wide open prairie … but Royer’s Cafe, Pie Haven, Stone Cellar, and the little stands on the side of the road are pretty great too.

PAS: After a full day of shopping and food, drinks and chats, I bet The Prairie is a welcome reprieve.

RA: Absolutely. I’ll relax with a hot cup of tea (others prefer a cold beer), reflect on the day, and ride a horse!!

photos of The Prairie provided by Rachel Ashwell