Since my idea of cooking dinner is tossing a bag of popcorn in the microwave and popping open a can of diet soda, you'll never spot me in the grocery store with a cart brimming over with ingredients for a gourmet meal.
But you will catch me in the produce aisle, hunting for the greenest apples, the fattest lemons and the fullest artichokes.
They aren't for consumption. They'll be working hard as props in my decorating.
I love to use real fruits and veggies in my daily decorating. I think they are every bit as appealing and luxurious as a bouquet of fresh flowers. I adore their quirky textures, pungent smells and curious shapes. Plus, it's easy to create gorgeous displays with fruits and veggies that require almost no effort or expense.
I recently hosted a brunch at my home and was deliberating over what to do as a centerpiece for my dining room table. During the spring and summer months, my favorite color palette is green and white. So I pulled a tart green apple out of my fruit bowl to use as inspiration and started to experiment with different looks.
I dug up an old oval cast iron planter that is about the size of an English footbath. I cleaned it up and placed it at the center of my table, being sure to first protect the table with a piece of cardboard and clear plastic sheeting, both of which I cut a few inches wider than the planter. If you don't have a cast iron planter, use one made from terra cotta, aluminum or porcelain. A footbath or cachepot would also work wonderfully.
Next, I placed an old book in the center of the planter to use as a riser. I put a large, silver candelabrum on top of the book and then filled in the open space with green apples. I topped the arms of the candelabrum with taper candles, each ringed with a small halo of dried moss. To finish the look, I rested moss around the base of the planter to conceal the protective cardboard and plastic below. Within minutes, I had a simple and unusual centerpiece my guests loved.
I frequently use green apples to add a splash of color to displays. To perk up the concrete birdbath I keep on my front porch, I put a garden statue in the center, then fill in with a wreath of green apples.
I also like using a yellow and blue color palette in my summer decorating. So I frequently fill a blue and white pedestal bowl or footbath with the biggest lemons I can find.
If you're partial to blue and green, limes also look sublime in blue and white china bowls. Then, when winter rolls around, replace them with tangerines or oranges laced with cloves to bring in that wonderful autumn color and aroma.
As much as I love fruit, I also have to have my veggies when I'm decorating. Next time you're at the farmers market, scout for carrots with the tops and roots still attached. Then, place each carrot in a clear celery jar filled with water. Can't find carrots? Use bundles of asparagus tied with twine. Or, for the simplest centerpiece ever, fill a pedestal bowl with artichokes.
If you're feeling ambitious, combine fresh fruits and vegetables with freshly cut flowers to create masterful arrangements. I love flowers paired with clusters of grapes, ripe plums, spears of asparagus and artichokes. The overall effect is so luxurious, it's like something plucked from a still life.