Southern Projects – A Look Back

It has been really cold here this week, as I understand it has been in most of the country. We had quite a bit of snow this past weekend.



It is a good time to stay inside and take a look back at some of our favorite projects of 2009 for Rhoda’s Party!


Many of my favorite projects happen outdoors. I love to spend time outside whenever I can. It is so cold now, I am happy to look back at some of those outside projects, as well as a few inside projects.

Let’s start outside.

First we planted the garden.





I also took some inspiration from a floral magazine for my cocktails on the porch party.



Of course, I wasn’t having a wedding and really wanted to use what I already had.




I was also inspired by a piece of furniture I already had to build a similar piece to hold our television:



And, the piece I designed from that inspiration and then built myself (yes, I’m quite proud)!


I had a lot of fun at Thanksgiving. All the family was here.





And then, as the weather got even colder, it was Christmas time. Time to change the look of the fireplace.





Of course, now we are back to the before on that one. May have to make a few changes on that, however, I love the picture. My husband and I purchased the French Quarter scene on the New Orleans stop on our honeymoon.

I’m expecting a lot of changes this year and look forward to sharing them with you. I also look forward to seeing what everyone else is doing this year!

By the way, this is also Outdoor Wednesday!

Outdoor Wednesday logo[5]

Hope you all find lots of inspiration this week!

Now a message from Soldiers’ Angels:

We have a situation where a veteran is in urgent need of financial assistance to help keep his family afloat.

This 12-year veteran who has made numerous sacrifices for our country, was wounded in Iraq and is now out of the Army.  He lives each day with a Traumatic Brain Injury, severe PTSD, and many other injuries that limit what he can do.  These injuries are so extensive that he can longer work and provide for his family.

Within the next few days, their car will be repossessed.  They are in need of a four wheel drive vehicle (there’s lots of snow in Colorado) so that they can get to and from doctor’s appointments, errands, as well as getting their three young children to and from school.

They also need assistance in paying their house heating,  lights, and phone bills.

If you can help this family, you can donate via the donation button at and mention the Stecklein family in the “Description” section or contact me at christi@asouthernlife and I can give you more contact information.

Today’s Lagniappe:  Michael Chiarello’s Winter Panzanella
I thought this recipe looked so wonderful. I love Panzanella and had never thought of a winter version. What a great idea. From

For the croutons:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 6 cups day-old bread, crust removed, cubed
  • 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 1 small red onion, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Gray salt
  • 4 cups peeled, seeded, and diced butternut squash (1/2-inch dice)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, then quartered
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat and cook until it foams. Add the garlic and thyme, and immediately add the bread cubes. Toss to coat well. Add most of the grated cheese and stir. Transfer bread to a baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and salt and pepper and gently toss again while still warm to melt the cheese. Bake stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

Soak the sliced onion in the sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt for about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Toss the squash with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil, sage, salt, and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until the squash is tender and lightly caramelized, about 15 to minutes. Let cool.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the quartered Brussels sprouts and cook until tender but retain a touch of crispness, about 1 1/2 minutes, and drain.

Into the reserved red onions and vinegar, whisk in remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Season with pepper.

In a large bowl combine the roasted squash, croutons, and Brussels sprouts. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Add the parsley leaves and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with grated Parmesan and serve immediately.

Chef note: “Soaking the onion briefly in sherry vinegar–sometimes called blooming the onion–mellows the raw onion taste.”





22 responses to “Southern Projects – A Look Back”

  1. […] Christi @ A SOUTHERN LIFE […]

  2. Christina Avatar

    Wow, you built the beautiful cabinet yourself!!! Amazing.

    Love your before and afters too. We are in GA and are having colder temps than I remember in a very long time. Beautiful snow picture.

  3. Teresa Avatar

    what a great post…Love finding new blogs…..enjoyed reading yours tonight.. Happy New Year…..and I love black and whites

  4. Laurel Avatar

    I dream of having a great garden – maybe next year I’ll be able to start! Yours is dreamy.

  5. Jane Avatar

    I love seeing the before and afters of your garden and your centerpiece for your patio party is gorgeous!! Great outdoor pictures!

    Love the cabinet you built, amazing, and I love your fireplace for Christmas. You are one creative gal!

    Happy Outdoor Wednesday!!


  6. Kathy Avatar

    What great before and after shots. You did a fantastic job on that cabinet, you should be proud, it’s beautiful. Loved the B&W snow photos. Happy OW!

  7. Roeshel  @ The DIY Show Off Avatar

    You’ve had a busy year! Great job on the cabinet! I wish I had your fearless talent! 😉

  8. Claudia@DipityRoad Avatar

    The before and afters are so compelling — i go back and forth 🙂 kinda getting dizzy.

    the work you put into your posts are always amazing and inspiring.

    If you get a moment –would love you to stop by — I’m going to start a new meme –Friday– Finding Beauty that I would love you to join!

    TTFN~~ Claudia ♥ ♥

  9. Stine, Canada Avatar

    I love seeing the before and afters! Good work!

  10. Mary Avatar

    I loved everyone of your 2009 projects. I especially love the transformation of the fireplace at Christmas time. I hope 2010 brings you health, happiness and prosperity. Happy Outdoor Wednesday.

  11. Sally Avatar

    What a great worker you are! That piece of furniture looks professionally done. Thanks for sharing. Happy OW.

  12. rue Avatar

    I have a terrible fear of saws, so I’m really impressed with the cabinet you built by yourself! Your fireplace is gorgeous and you set a mean table 🙂


  13. Marianne@songbird Avatar

    You designed and build that cabinet yourself! Wowie! I love looking at my garden pictures too this time of the year. Maybe now would be a good time to finally start on my garden journal.
    Greetz, marianne

  14. Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality Avatar

    Christi, great outdoor projects. Now we’ll all be itching for Spring. Love that piece you built yourself, I’m very impressed. Thanks for joining the party!

  15. bj Avatar

    I loved seeing your befores and afters. Very nice post.

  16. Kammy Avatar

    Love your inspiration photos and the fact that you did them !
    Hugs ~ Kammy

  17. Pat@Back Porch Musings Avatar

    Beautiful post. I enjoyed your befores and afters!

  18. Cindy @ Lakewood Avatar

    It’s fun to see befores and afters. I’m a gardener and enjoy seeing others’ efforts. Missing it all during these winter months…
    Living it up at Lakewood,

  19. Hootin' Anni Avatar

    Yep, yep….it’s gonna be cold HERE too….in south Texas along the coast!! Oh my. I need to find a warm cave to hibernate in.

    Come on over to see C shells!! For WEDNESDAY

  20. Joyce M Avatar

    I loved your cyber tour of before and after. Such a neat idea.
    Joyce M

  21. sarah Avatar

    Loved the walk in your garden. ~ Sarah

  22. quiltworks Avatar

    I really like the black and white photo of the snow covered tree! Very nice composition… and then it was nice to take a walk into the garden!

    …I am berried!

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