Scenes from Grove House

Heather Bullard | Kitchen

I thought it might be nice to break up my travel posts with more current daily life happenings. Going through thousands of vacation photos can seem like a mind numbing vortex and it’s feeling a bit overwhelming to try and play catch up. So let’s just jump back and forth, shall we?

Have I mentioned that we have a rescue pup named Liberty? She’s a Bochi – half Boston Terrier, half Chihuahua. She’s the result of a botched breeding attempt by the Boston Terriers owner. They couldn’t sell the puppies as pure bred Bostons and had plans to take her and her sister to the pound. My husband drove 3 hours to rescue both. Hence the name Liberty – freedom from the shelter! Her sister, Henrietta lives with our daughter and now they have play dates.

She’s a quirky dog that happens to love fruit and veggies and is always under foot when the smoothie king has the blender whirring. He makes big batches of them every day or two and lines up a row of mason jars in the fridge for quick grab and go meals. There are zero recipes. And the same smoothie is never repeated. He doesn’t even keep track of the ingredients. Just throws stuff in. I think this one had carrot juice, pomegranate juice, bananas, strawberries, apricots, apples, spinach, blueberries, cucumber, and ground flax seed. See what I mean?

Heather Bullard | Daily-3

This weekend was the Long Beach Antique Market and I somehow convinced him it was a good idea to go look for furniture. On Fathers Day. In the extreme heat. Gosh I love him. We left the house around 5:30 to try and finish before the high temps became unbearable. I had big plans of taking photos but only took one – then promptly put my camera away. So yeah.

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We didn’t find any furniture but he did buy an antique fan made in the 40’s. It runs like a dream. So smooth and quiet. And heavy! All the new fans I’ve bought over the years have ended up hissing and screaming while they spin or end up puttering out. Goes to say; they don’t make them like they used to.

Heather Bullard | Fan-3

I planted a Cherokee Purple tomato plant because a summer without homegrown tomatoes is a crying shame. I’m watering it on the daily hoping it will survive the heat. Fingers crossed. If you see me at the farmers market buying armloads of heirlooms – you know what happened.

Heather Bullard | Daily-1

Oh, and two of my nieces are on high school break so I asked them if they’d like to intern with me this summer. I’m sure they have more exciting things to do like lay around the pool, spend endless hours on Snapchat or sleep in. But both said yes…I think it was the “paid” internship that hooked them. We’re going to alternate days to keep things even and I’m looking forward to having the company in the studio. That way I won’t have to continue practicing hand modeling with my self timer or remote shutter. Even looking at this photo makes me laugh!

Heather Bullard | Studio

The first one starts tomorrow morning and we have plans to tackle my overflowing filing cabinets. In case you’re wondering how exciting it is to work with me.

Thanks for popping by today! Stay cool my friends!

Antique Market | Lucca, Italy

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Our stay at Valdirose happened to coincide with the monthly antique market in Lucca. And being that we both love a great flea market we were all too happy to make a day of it!

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After we found parking we made our way to the main square to begin our hunt. The market has hundreds of dealers with stalls spilling over from the square on to the side streets and alleyways. The backdrop of Lucca’s ancient architecture made for an incredibly memorable experience.

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For hours we strolled among the stalls searching for treasures, enjoying the local chatter and bargaining being discussed in Italian. All on friendly terms, of course.

One thing I’ve noticed about European vs American culture is that dogs seem to be welcome everywhere. Which I love! I’ve seen dogs at markets, on busy city streets, at local cafes and coffee shops, even in larger shopping centers all with an air of ease in their surroundings. It makes me want to bring our rescue pup Liberty along for the ride more often.

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We happened to run across an antique marble basin nearly identical to the one we used in my studio bathroom. It was 250 euro in case you’re wondering. I also adored that bamboo chair!
Too bad it wouldn’t fit in my backpack carry-on.

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My husband was obsessing over all the unique bikes. I think he plans on making one someday because he asked me to take a photo of nearly all of them. I have to admit this powder blue one parked in front of my favorite linen vendor was pretty cute. I ended up buying a set of six antique linen napkins here. Now I just need to plan a little party to use them.

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Oh, and I can’t forget to show you our adorable rental car for our Italian adventure….

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So perfect, right?!

Thanks for dropping by the blog today. I know my posts are few and far between and I wanted you to know I appreciate you taking time to spend a few minutes here with me. Goodness knows I have a volume of stuff to talk about: travels, work, interior decorating going on at Grove House, and a slew of other projects. Hopefully I can get my rear in gear and knock out some posts!

In the meantime, you can find me on Instagram sharing highlights of daily life.
In a more frequent manner. xo, H

Valdirose | Florence, Italy

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After our stay in Venice came to an end, we traveled by high speed train to Florence. I had been dreaming about visiting Valdirose for what seemed like the longest time and was thrilled we had the chance to spend a few days at the incredibly charming bed and breakfast. If you follow Irene or Paolo on Instagram, everything you see is just what to expect. Their breakfast sunroom is straight out of a movie set, evoking warm fuzzies and instant “I want to live here forever” feelings.

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The natural light that streams through the glass ceiling and windows floods every square inch of the room. Each morning when you come down for breakfast you are greeted with freshly baked cakes or pastries, yogurt topped with homemade preserves, granola or cereal, fresh juice and authentic cappuccinos, espresso or lattes.

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As a prop stylist, I found her dish collection enviable. Aren’t they so pretty stacked up in the blue cabinet? And I love that they’re used daily for guests and family.

The outside grounds are just as gorgeous with pea gravel lined pathways and old stone steps flanked with rosemary leading you to the small grove of olive trees.

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It’s easy to see how captivating the entire place is but to be honest, the most memorable part of our stay was the kindness of the family. We were greeted with warm cups of coffee and conversation of stories about traveling, family, and creative endeavors. It was wonderful to learn about the history of the home (Irene grew up here) and how they transformed it by adding the sunroom and turning it into an inn for guests. They use the home for family gatherings during the holidays and it’s where Irene creates delicious recipes (and stunning photos) for her books.

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Something I always find fascinating are the connections you make with people half way across the world. The commonalities you share as humans. My husband and Paolo were so much alike -both Italian, love to build and repurpose things, bring home old “junk” to fix or make new, talk endlessly about construction, make a great cup of coffee, why they even unknowingly dressed alike every single day. We joked that they could easily be brothers. Those are the memories you take with you and tuck in your heart so you’ll never forget.

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On the morning we were leaving, I came down to find a gift from Irene of her charming cookbook. It was so beautifully wrapped that to this day I still have that dried hydrangea. My husband had tucked it away in an antique box he found at the flea market and carried it in his backpack our entire remaining journey. Now when I open her book I’m reminded of both their thoughtfulness.

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If by chance your travels bring you anywhere near Florence, do yourself the good fortune of staying with the Moretti’s. You will leave refreshed, inspired, and immensely grateful for having had the opportunity that your path brought you to Valdirose.

Valdirose Charming Rooms
Via val di rose, 35
50055 Lastra a Signa

The Rialto Market | Venice, Italy

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Scenes from a morning spent wandering the stalls at the Rialto Market. It’s an incredibly vibrant and lively place; overflowing with intoxicating bounty and delightful Italians. In my mind, this is always the best part of travel – mixing in with the locals and doing your best to chat it up using your broken language skills and awkward hand gestures. I can still recall the mushroom guy yelling to anyone within ear shot – “Funghi Freschi, Funghi Freschi”!
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If you plan to visit go early. They open at 7am and vendors start packing things up just after noon.

The canal Vaporetto stop is Rialto…you can hop off, pick up a few things at the market, take a walk over the Rialto Bridge (snap some iconic photos) and look for a quiet place to have a picnic.

Rialto Market
Campo della Pescheria
San Polo, Venezia 30125

Spicy Orange Marmalade

Spicy Orange Marmalade | Heather Bullard | LRes-1

Every year I challenge myself with finding new ways to use all the oranges we have at our disposal. In fact, I have a secret Pinterest board dedicated solely for this purpose. I’ve saved all kinds of things; cakes, breads, glazes, salads, donuts, infused oils, cleaning products, holiday decorations …you name it, I’ve pinned it.  I’m not sure I’ll ever attempt making all of them but they’re there as inspiration should the mood strike. With oranges being in season during the winter months, I figure those cold lazy days could be made useful by making a few things.

Since becoming a Certified Master Food Preserver from UC, I’ve been spending some of my free time volunteering to teach others the art of food preservation. It’s been a rewarding hobby and I’ve learned so much through the experience. I recently invited one of my fellow alumni over for a day of marmalading. It was my very first time making it and I knew I could use her expertise during my first go round. My mom and niece came over for the afternoon as well and we put on our aprons, turned up the music, and got to work.

Spicy Orange Marmalade | Heather Bullard | LRes-4

After reviewing recipe options (some varied in sugar from 3 to 9 cups! for nearly the same amount of fruit) I decided to use a recipe from So Easy to Preserve a book we refer to when teaching others about canning. I adapted the recipe to suit my taste preference for all thing spicy by adding dried chili flakes. I wanted a sweet and spicy marmalade I could also use on grilled meats, as a base for salad dressing, or to stir in couscous for a little extra kick.

I did come to the realization that buying really good marmalade is expensive because it’s very time consuming. Some recipes suggest soaking the fruit 12-18 hours and take up to three days to make. And there’s all the peeling and chopping. I found the whole process therapeutic instead of a chore. In fact, we made two batches and the next day I made another on my own. It was good practice as one batch came out a little undercooked and runny and the next was a tad overcooked. But all in all it was a great day of learning and I’m looking forward to making more!

Spicy Orange Marmalade | Heather Bullard | LRes-3

If you suddenly have a hankering to eat marmalade but aren’t all gung-ho to make it you can buy a jar here. I haven’t tried their Spicy Orange (although I bought some!) but have had their Ginger Pear Preserves which I could eat straight out of the jar by the spoonful!

If you’re looking for a great book on preserving, this is my favorite. Worth it for the stories alone.

Spicy Orange Marmalade
Serves: 7 half-pint jars
Adapted from So Easy to Preserve
  • 4 cups thinly sliced orange peel (about 6 large oranges)
  • 4 cups orange pulp, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup thinly sliced lemon (about 2 medium lemons)
  • 6 cups water
  • Sugar - about 6 cups
  • 1½ - 2 teaspoon dried chili flakes, depending on preference
  1. Add water and prepared fruit in a saucepan.
  2. Heat to simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Cover and let stand in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Sterilize canning jars.
  5. Measure fruit and liquid remaining in saucepan.
  6. Add 1 cup of sugar for each cup of fruit mixture.
  7. Bring slowly to boiling, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  8. Stir in dried chili flakes.
  9. Cook rapidly to the jellying point, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  10. Pour hot marmalade into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace.
  11. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids.
  12. Process 5 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath.
  13. Remove from water bath and let stand overnight.
  14. Marmalade will be shelf stable for one year.