Nature On The Table | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Jewel tone colors characterize the autumn months along with the bounty of earthy food. This year on my holiday table there will be truffles some friends brought me from Italy, a variety of soups and delicacy made from different squashes. I plan on making lot of risotto with wild mushrooms and prosciutto. I am in the mood for roasted chestnut and dried fruits to munch on while sitting by the fireplace reading interesting books during the holidays. Some of the dried fruit come from garden, in fact I made roasted apples vinegar to use on salads and roasted lemons for grilled or baked chicken.
My table will be colorful with ceramics I hand carried with me in the plane from Sorrento, in the South of Italy all the way across the ocean to the US.
Home-made breads will fill the air of my house. Yes, I make bread at least twice a month.

(BH&G photos)

Since I have been in the process of writing my third book on the subject  of Colors I feel like bathing in colors in all my daily expressions, not that I didn’t before, it just seems the feeling is elevated to the nth power.
This year, I will turn to nature for my Thanksgiving table decorations. It was easy to make napkin holders out of scrap fabrics and spray paint in gold a few real gourds to display on a cake stand.
Mums and pumpkins will be a novelty on anybody’s table this year, not only mine and not only for the table. To keep this arrangement fresh, use floral foam underneath the flowers, cut it in a round shape and cover it with mums. Group a few pumpkins in different shapes and size around the mums. Voila’ nature at your service inside and outside your home!
I am scattering pine cones in vases , bowls, to decorate a towel rack and even on the curtains as tie backs. Pine cones, because they are dark and woody, play well with other textures, such as ropes, glass,  or golden balls.

Nature doesn’t go wrong in combining textures, colors are always the right colors to each season. I can enjoy the decorations for a while longer past the holidays if I fancy and once I discard them back into the nature, they will dissolve again to become part of the earth once more.

This is my advice this holiday season. Stay away from artificial decorations, be respectful of the environment, support your local artists and craft people, buy local, buy handmade and give unique gifts from your heart.

We will soon transition into winter, we will see bare trees, cold, rain and snow in some parts of the world. It will be a different beauty and as usual I will have a lot to say about decorating in the winter style, along with preparing some succulent heart warming food. For now, enjoy this moment, this season in all the colors and prepare to enter the holiday season with a thankful heart.

The highlight of this year for me was meeting a 5 months old girl, the daughter of my new clients, two fine people. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to be of service to them.

If you are in a bound, or feel the stress of the holidays, relax and let me take care of your decorations for the holidays, or any organization you need to do to make your holiday event successful.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved  

Val WorkingValentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer and former Fashion Designer, working in the USA and Europe since 1990. She blends well fashion with interior and colors the world of her clients.
She has been described as “the colorist” and loves to create the unusual. She is also the author of two Italian regional cuisine books available in this site at the Books page and in various other locations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnq8baaAq0M

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Pumpkins and Roses Welcome Fall | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

I don’t know about you but I love fall, the jewel tone colors that nature brings to us, the pleasant mild temperature, comfort food again and the holidays approaching. Today, while I was preparing my garden for fall, I was thinking of all of you and what kind of tips to bring you to prepare your home for this beautiful season and the coming winter. (BH&G photos)

As an interior designer I could compile a long list of so many quick and easy fixes to get your home in order. Not to overwhelm you, I will give you just a few suggestions and if you carry them out, your home will be working for you just fine during the winter.

1. Clear the gutters of falling leaves and evergreen needles to keep all downspout clear and allow rainwater to fall freely.

2. Clean lawn equipment. Adding fuel stabilizer to the gas tank will keep the gas from oxidizing and causing corrosion.

3. Caulk the cracks where masonry meets siding, where pipes or wires enter the house and around window and door frames.

4. Clean up the exterior with a pressure washer and wash windows to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

5. Change outdoor light bulbs with high-efficiency compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL).

6. Protect your plumbing from freezing by applying ready-made pipe jackets.

7. Check the fireplace safety to avoid chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure both chimney system and venting systems are working properly. Burn only well-seasoned hardwoods to reduce buildup of creosote, a flammable compound. Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms is a must.

8. Seal air leaks to keep your house warmer and ventilate the attic.

This is the pumpkins season, let’s turn our attention to the front door. If the color of the door is a bit tired, a coat of fresh paint (or stain depending on how your door was treated) will change the entry into a welcoming statement. Accent the door with a beautiful wreath, display potted plants and plenty pumpkins.

Now let’s go to the kitchen. The food lover in me would not want to leave you without any food talk.

In my first published book Come Mia Nonna – A Return To Simplicity, I included a perfect recipe for the Fall: Autumn Style pasta with butternut squash and prosciutto. The earthy flavor of the butternut squash blends so well with the Italian prosciutto, a type of cured pork meat, preserved under salt for a couple of years. I prepared this dish for myself last night. Bacon fits with this recipe too, but the taste is not quite the same. My recipe calls for a short pasta, but this specialty is also a vegetable dish to accompany a roast.

(Photo left: http://www.midwestliving.com/homes/seasonal-decorating/holiday-ideas/easy-thanksgiving-centerpieces/?page=2)

At the end of the same book, I included a delicate recipe for Marmalade Of Rose Petals, a real surprise.

In Sins Of A Queen, my second published book, I thought of autumn too. I want everybody’s table to be cheerful and filled with so many earthy foods.
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

I wrote about some fun liqueur made with fruits that anybody can make at home without any difficulty. The strawberries liqueur, limoncello (made with lemons) and the chocolate liqueur are proving so successful. These types of cordial liqueurs need a couple of months for maceration process, thus September-October is the right time to start and make them ready for the holidays.

(Photos: BH&G)

Now go around the house, find all the empty containers, vases, bowls, or any vessel with an interesting look and fill them with roses, fall flowers and pumpkins. Be creative, take inspiration from my photos or make your own arrangement.
Turn your fireplace on and scatter scented candles in rooms most lived.
Let the flavor of the holidays begin and give the gift of love by preparing good earthy autumn food for yourself and your family. I really love the warmth of this season!

Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Robert Taitano, a friend and business associate of    http://www.wine-fi.com says:
“Valentina – an International Professional Interior Designer is now giving you an opportunity to redesign your palate”.

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms. She is the author of two published books on Italian regional cuisine, available in this site on the Books page and in various locations:

http://outskirtspress.com/ComeMiaNonna

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnq8baaAq0M

http://outskirtspress.com/SinsOfAQueen

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