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Hummingbird Cake

Author: Art Van

hummingbird cake

In the South, Hummingbird Cake is kind of a legend. Created by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, N.C., Southern Living magazine featured this delicious cake with the great name in its February 1978 issue. Sixteen years later, it’s still creating a buzz. Try it on a Sunday afternoon or bring it to your next family gathering.



  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 cups mashed bananas
  • 1 cup chopped black walnuts
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 pound butter, softened
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  • Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the oil, eggs, pineapple, bananas and nuts. Add flour mixture, and mix together by hand.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool on racks.
  • Prepare the frosting by blending together the cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Evenly spread frosting on middle, sides and top of cake.

If you’re a fan of the popular television series Mad Men, you’ll recognize the sunken living room as character Don Draper’s former bachelor pad. The design is classic Midcentury Modern, a look that was popular from the mid-1940s to 1970. According to the remodeling and design website Houzz, “[Midcentury modern’s] uncomplicated, fresh aesthetic arose from a desire to propel postwar America into the modern era and recast design through a bold new lens.”


mad men


The style puts an emphasis on simple forms, contemporary patterns and natural materials. Here are five of its signature characteristics.


midcentury sofamidcentury modern leather sofa
1. Clean lines. Midcentury Modern furniture features simple lines and taut upholstery. The look is understated and there is minimal ornamentation. The Elle Sofa from the Style Collection is a great example. Designed with the small scale in mind, it’s covered in a textural soft grey fabric. Or chose the Jeremy Sofa, with its fashionably tailored sleek lines. In deep charcoal-colored 100% genuine leather, it makes a stronger statement in a room.



midcentury modern cocktail table midcentury modern cocktail table2


2. Organic shapes. Soften the lines of Midcentury Modern upholstery with graceful curves and geometric or organic shapes on accent pieces, such as cocktail tables – an important furnishing in this era. The Wave Collection Cocktail Table fits the bill. Its fresh curves are accented by stools that not only add visual appeal but offer extra seating for entertaining. Or chose the sleek Surf Collection Cocktail Table. The glass top has an amoeba-like shape with soft edges. And the curved wood base offers a convenient hidden drawer for storage.


midcentury modern bookcasemidcentury modern console table


3. Natural wood. Furnishings in Midcentury Modern rooms are often crafted from light wood, such as teak, in finishes that showcase their natural beauty. Reminiscent of the 1940s, the Helena Bookcase provides smart and stylish organization for any room. The black metal frame sets off the natural pine shelves. Or choose the Jonah Console Table. With its natural finish and unique shape, it could easily become a focal point in a room.


midcentury modern floor lampmidcentury modern table lamp


4. Statement light fixtures. In a streamlined Midcentury Modern home, every piece counts. Add a style statement with an unusual light fixture or lamp or pendant with clean, geometric lines. The Arc Floor Lamp, with its hanging shade, adds a sense of sophistication and drama to the room. Its straight lines are softened by its round drum shade. Or choose a Table Lamp like this one with its iron cage base and shade that features a map design. Its unique design eliminates the need for knick-knacks or accent pieces.


midcentury modern kitchen cartmidcentury modern chair
5. Neutral hues with a jolt of color. Midcentury Modern rooms use neutral tones as their base, but the look is completed with pops of strong color in wall art, throw pillows or decorative furniture. For example, add a splash of red in your kitchen with the Lincoln Kitchen Cart. On wheels, it could easily relocate into your dining or family room to help with entertaining. Or choose the Cassidy Leather Chair in vibrant orange. This sleek chair would wake up the earth tones typically found in a Midcentury Modern living or family room.

Dipping eggs in the vinegar-based dyes is a tried and true Easter tradition, but what if you want to shake up your decorating this year? We found five great alternatives complements of Reader’s Digest:


chalkboard eggs


Create “Chalkboard Eggs” with spray-on chalkboard paint. Then decorate with colored chalk.


tattoo eggs


Pick up some temporary tattoos at the dollar store. Then apply them to your eggs instead of your arms.


bird egg


If you love Twitter, dye the egg blue and turn it into a bird by gluing on a wing and beak.


monogrammed eggs


Use a paint pen and create monogrammed eggs, which can be used as place cards for Easter brunch.


sticker eggs


Use stickers. We love the fresh and vibrant look of these floral eggs – what could be easier?


Timeless Style

Author: Art Van

We’ve all walked into rooms where we can immediately tell the decade in which it was designed. But is it possible to have a room that doesn’t show its age? Absolutely! Choosing classic furnishings in forever-fresh colors will help you create a timeless look to love for years to come.


Here are five things you should keep in mind:



timeless leather chair timeless chandelier


1. Choose natural materials. A home that is timeless utilizes natural materials and fibers. Choose rugs in cotton or wool. Pick upholstery in linen, velvet or leather. Invest in high quality wood furniture. And add a touch of iron with light fixtures or occasional tables.


crank table floor clock

2. Combine pieces from yesterday and today. A mix of heirlooms or reproductions and new investments will create a room that not only has timeless style, but that has personal meaning. Use your mother’s dining room table with new Parson’s Chairs, or use the antique trunk you found at the flea market as a cocktail table with your leather sofa seating. It’s possible to effortlessly mix eras when you choose items that resonate with you.


madeline collection
3. Lean toward understated. “The fewer colors used in a room, the more pleasing and restful the result will be,” said Edith Wharton (1862-1937), in The Decoration of Houses (1897). Choose furnishings in a color palette that includes three to four hues. The less-is-more rule also goes for style; steer away from oversized and over fussy and go for streamlined and simple instead.


intrigue collection
4. Stick with traditional colors. While you don’t have to go with 100% neutrals, stick to traditional colors when designing your décor. Beige, gray and ivory all have a strong history in timeless style. Bring in color with artwork or in single upholstered pieces, such as accent chairs, which can be easily swapped out or updated. Then punch it up with bolder classic hues, such as ruby red, turquoise or navy, which are forever in style.


plaid rugcoral chair

5. Stay with classic patterns. Finally, rooms often look dated when they feature complicated or trendy patterns. Remember paisley? Instead choose classic patterns such as stripes, plaids and checks, which are timeless. They’re also easy to live with and easy to combine.

Do you have a clean routine for your closet? Lisa Adams, a Los Angeles-based closet organizer who has worked with celebrities like Kris Jenner, Guiliana Rancic and Jewel, says that when you bring new things in, you need to get in a habit of letting go of unused things.


“Get a purging or donating system,” says Adams. “If a shirt has a stain, instead of looking at it and putting it back in the closet, take action. Purge permanently stained clothing or care for items that need repair. And if items need to be altered, make arrangements.”


To make it easy, label baskets or bags in your closet. When they’re full, it’s time to take them away.

Looking to make a splash in your home? How about adding a touch of turquoise? The vibrant blue, in varying tones and saturation, adds a friendly punch of color and is the perfect accent for any room in your home.


Filled with energy, turquoise recharges your spirit. It’s also the color of the ocean, and can have a calming affect during times of stress.  If you love turquoise as much as we do, here are five easy pieces you can bring home to embrace this hot trend:


turquoise lamp


Whooo doesn’t need a table lamp? We think our Ceramic Owl Table Lamp will be a whimsical addition to your room. Glazed in antique turquoise blue, it has the added details of a crystal base and crisp white shade.


turquoise coverlet
Fall asleep in a sea of color with the Bennett Place Coverlet. In rich turquoise, it is the perfect solution for comfortable nights, transitioning from spring into summer. Layer it for added warmth or use by itself. The set includes also includes two standard shams.


turquoise chair
Make a statement with the Pinnacle Accent Chair from the Metropolitan Home Collection. In vibrant blue, its velvet upholstery adds a touch of luxury and drama to any neutral decor. Its glamorous lines are sleek yet transitional, creating a look you’ll love forever.


turquoise wine cabinet
This beautiful light turquoise Wine Cabinet will organize your wine collection in style. Featuring an Asian-inspired design, it was constructed using traditional Chinese joinery. Hand-painted and hand-distressed, each is a one-of-a-kind.


turquoise rug
Finally, put some turquoise underfoot with our Fusion Rug. The Moroccan tile print adds global flair and eye-catching style. Mixed with gray, it dazzles but doesn’t overwhelm. It’s the perfect way to perk up gray, black or ivory furnishings.

A Tisket, A Tasket

Author: Art Van

The typical Easter basket – filled with chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks – is also filled with calories. About 2000 of them! Instead of making your child’s bunny bootie all about candy, how about adding these 10 fun springtime treasures:

  1. Bubbles
  2. Stickers
  3. Kite
  4. Seeds and saplings to start a garden
  5. Crayons and art supplies
  6. Yarn bracelets
  7. Cookie cutters in the shapes of bunnies, chicks or eggs
  8. A ball
  9. Jump rope
  10. Books

It’s no question; Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are a celebrity super-couple. The gorgeous and talented pair spends most of their time in Nashville, but they once called this contemporary $4.7 million Beverly Hills dwelling in their home. Built in 1965, it was given a modern remodel with upscale Hollywood drama. We love the sleek living room, with its soaring fireplace and open windows.




If you love it, too, we’ve got the look:


urban sofa
Start with a pair of our Thread & Feather Beckett Sofas, which have the same lines as the Kidman/Urban sofas. They have the added detailing of tufting, which makes the piece a transitional choice. The unique silver body fabric is further enhanced by the teal and coral toss pillows.


urban cocktail table


Next, add our Vintage Patina Square Cocktail Table. Its deep molasses finish provides a striking contrast to the light sofas and adds a sense of drama. And the clean lines brings in an urban contemporary feel.


urban sofa table
The Kidman/Urban home has a console table that matches its cocktail table, so we introduce the Brunello Console Table, which is the complement to the Vintage Patina Cocktail Table. It continues the contemporary feel of the room with sleek lines, and features three drawers for storage.


urban pedestal table 1 urban pedestal table 2
The Kidman/Urban home uses pedestal tables to showcase potted plants. You can do the same with one of these two choices: First, the Metallic Bronze Accent Table from the HGTV Home Collection has a striking silhouette. It can be used to hold your favorite accessory or as an additional end table in a small space. Or choose the sleek antique Black Telephone Stand. With a bottom shelf and drawer, it offers storage as well as the interesting detail of its decorative drawer pull.


urban ottoman

Seating is added to the living room with a contemporary ottoman. We offer the Storage Cube Ottoman with a removable lid. In white, it has a quilted finish for another contemporary element in the room.


urban rug 1urban rug 2


Finally, anchor the seating area with a contemporary rug, featuring an abstract print. Choose the Asher Rug, which offers a modern twist on a patchwork rug. The cool tones of the geometric matchstick pattern are eye-catching. Or select the Libretto Rug, with its warm hues and modern art feel. Its construction gives the room texture and durability.


Look like you just stepped off of a New York runway by updating your wardrobe for Spring 2014. According to Glamour magazine, icy pastels and hints of pink are at the top of the trend list, and the best thing about the pastel trend is that you can pick your most-flattering color and wear it with whatever silhouette flatters (and excites) you. “From a minty-green board-shorts suit to a sexy-CEO lilac dress to sporty baby blue bombers, the sky’s the limit on how pastel-happy you want to get.”

Combining colors to create a palette for your home creates the foundation for good design, but what about mixing wood tones? Yesterday’s rules suggested that homeowners stick to one tone of wood in a room, but rules are made to be broken. Combining wood finishes gives a space depth and character. It also creates an eclectic, “traveled” look and a room with visual interest.


Mixing and matching different shades of wood is very popular right now. While you might be unsure of how to approach it, it’s really is quite simple:


wood floors


1. Take inspiration from your floors. If your room has wood floors, use the color as the design basis for the room. Instead of matching the hue, add in wooden furniture that complements the undertones of your flooring. And use an area rug with similar tones under a major furniture grouping to make a cohesive transition between the floors, wood tones and large furniture.


2. Choose the same finish. Create a sense of balance within the room by choosing pieces with similar finishes, such as polished or natural. Too many finishes in a room creates a mismatched look, while the similar level of gloss unifies.


sienna dining room


3. Let one wood be the dominant tone. For a cohesive look, keep the same finish on large pieces, such as a dining room table and chairs, dresser and bed, or media center and cocktail table. Bring in secondary wood tones with smaller items, such as end tables and nightstands.


4. Be mindful of placement. Arrange your furnishings with thought to placement of the various tones. For example, avoid putting all of the darker pieces on one side. Instead, spread the different woods evenly across the room so the look is cohesive.


 combine woods style


5. Stay in the same style family. Mixing wood tones is easier if your room has an overall sense of style. Using traditional furnishings in varying woods will look purposeful, but mixing rustic pieces with traditional will look haphazard. Strive for similar styles and lines. For example, the lighter wood legs of our Heidi Settee are of a similar shape and style to the Annadale Cocktail Table.


6. Use accents and fabrics to marry the tones. The colors and fabrics of your accent pieces will help establish balance in the room. Bring in solids and patterns that mimic the woods you’re mixing. For example, add dark throw pillows on a light sofa to complement the mahogany end tables. Or upholster the seat of your oak dining room chairs in a dark fabric to blend with a cherry sideboard. These small touches will bridge the varying tones and give the room a harmonious feel.