California designer Shiree Hanson Segerstrom's weekly tips for decorating, gardening, and stylish living

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

MY TOP FOUR CANDLE CHOICES...plus easy candle care guidelines for longer use























 I live in a very old house, have three indoor pets, and possess a sensitive nose.  Candles for me are more than a luxury.  They cover a myriad of olfactory sins.

Here is a look at my favorite candles both current and past.  They are quality candles, long burning, and attractively packaged.

Voluspa has a scent called Muscari that is a combination of apricot and coconut wax.  The scent is very hard to describe but is absolutely intoxicating.























Tuscan Olive by Votivo candles was a best seller at my store S.S. Home for years and has a delectable woodsy smell.















Crepe Myrtle by Nouvelle Candles is another favorite.  Unfortunately I haven't been able to find it anywhere.  I love the center urn with the garland above.  I have several of them in the classic green finish scattered around my home.





















Lavender soy candles by Pre de Provence are amazing.  They come in these cute little white ceramic lidded urns that clean up nicely and can be used after the candle has burned down.

All of the featured candles have high oil quantities making them superior to other candles.  They have long burning times, and have the best fragrance.

To care for candles keep the wick short.  Cut it down to about a quarter inch, while cool.  When you begin to burn a candle in order to have it burn down evenly you must let it burn 1 1/2 to 2 hours at a time.  Then blow the candle out and let it cool.

Keep your candles lidded if possible to retain the scent.  Burning your candles is a way to make any moment special whether it's a Saturday morning with your favorite book or a late afternoon Yoga session.  Use good judgement when burning scented candles around company.  Not all of us have the same opinion about fragrance.



Thursday, February 9, 2012

the most amazing soup!! TWISTED CHICKEN SOUP with, ROTELLI, AVOCADO, AND FRESH LIME
















At the extreme risk of sounding like a broken record, I made the best ever chicken noodle soup this week.  I'm not bragging, rather, I am trying to convince you to try this recipe at home.  I named it Twisted Chicken Soup because it is a twist on the traditional chicken noodle soup I usually make.

Plus, I love the way avocados turn bright green when hot soup is ladled over them.  In case you haven't tried it, avocado is a terrific addition to most broth style soups.


















I used a very fresh tasting Trader Joe's free range chicken roast that I stripped of breasts and drumsticks for previous meals.  It was very meaty and delicious and just the back and thighs provided plenty of quality meat for the soup.  Sometimes the thigh and back meat can be too fatty but this was relatively lean.

The ingredients and my loosely devised recipe follows.  I used free range chicken and stock.  I prefer the brand Imagine stocks because they don't use added flavor.  By the way, when you see the term natural flavor in the manufacturer's list of ingredients, it isn't natural at all.  The Food and Drug Administration has allowed the use of this misleading and confusing misnomer and it's a shame.


















SHIREE'S TWISTED CHICKEN SOUP

Trader Joe's free range Chicken roast (I simply put the carcass containing the thigh and back meat in the pot of stock)
2- 32 oz. (64 oz total) cartons Imagine free range chicken stock
1- 32 oz. carton Imagine vegetable stock
8 - 10 oz. dried Rotelli pasta
1/2 onion chopped, red or yellow
3-5 garlic cloves chopped (I like my garlicky) 
1-2 carrots thinly sliced
2-3 stalks celery chopped
freshly ground sea salt and pepper
water to cover if needed


plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
sliced avocados ( I like to use 1/2 avocado per bowl but you can get back with 1/4)
fresh lime wedges


Chopped cilantro or flat leaf Italian parsley are optional in my recipe but  I didn't add either of these this time.  I have also made a variation of this soup with rice and red cabbage instead of Rotelli pasta, which I deciphered from a soup I've ordered at the popular Northern California restaurant, El Jardin.
















In a large stock pot over medium heat simmer chicken, stocks, onion, and garlic till meat is falling off the bone, about 30 minutes.  Add carrots and simmer another 10 minutes.  While simmering, remove chicken from bone and return to soup pot.  Add celery and pasta and cook another 10 minutes till pasta is al dente.  Season with sea salt and pepper.


Ladle into bowls over Parmesan cheese, avocado, and lime juice.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

THE COLOR PUNCH...working with strong wall colors























Bright wall colors are all the rage.  It takes a certain confidence to pull it off and it takes a bold personality to live with this much color.

All images House Beautiful.























An easy way to live with strong color is to surround it with a lot of white.  The bathroom and kitchen above have plenty of clean, white space for the "eye to rest".























Blues are typically restful but the bedroom above is playful as well.  A great guest room, teenager's room, or even perhaps a single woman's room.  I wouldn't use it in a couple's master bedroom.























Pink is quite chic right now.  The pink in the dining room above has a touch of raspberry in it, meaning it has a slightly bluish hue.























This dining room is rather plum or mauve, a color right out of the 80's (egad, don't want to go back to the 80's again), made fresh with modern touches like the side board, lamp, and hanging fixture.



















This dining room is red but it reads orange in the image above.  Orange has never been more livable than it is right now.  It is also said to be an appetite stimulant.

To test and use strong colors on walls be aware of a few things:


1- Paint colors visually change throughout the day, and under different lighting circumstances such as overhead lights, lamp light, and natural light.


2- Test colors against pieces of pure white paper and purchase a tester quart first before investing in gallons.


3- Remember that the more pigment in a paint, the harder it is to work with.  Pigment is heavy and darker colors of paint tend to "drip", creating wavy surfaces when drying.


4- The whiter the paint base a manufacturer uses, the better quality the paint is because it requires more pigment than paints with a gray base.


5- Look at a paint color for at least a week before committing to it and look at your tester sample at different times of the day. 


6- You may or may not be aware of this but designers are usually available on a consultative basis for paint selections.  Just make it clear to him or her that you only want paint consultation so they can plan their calendar accordingly.

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