joy of nesting

joy of nesting
Shiree Hanson Segerstrom Design and Wellness for Women with Arthritis and Other Chronic Pain.

The Bambinos of Spring and...My Best Banana Creme Pie!

Easter is way too short in my opinion. Why does Christmas get so much attention and why must Easter be so fleeting?

I have several Easter traditions but the one that's pure decadence is my banana crème pie. If you haven't had a home made banana crème, this is your chance. It's absolutely to die for.

Scroll down for crust and filling recipes.

This recipe was inspired by my paternal grandmother Minnie Hanson who was my everything. She made me her home made banana crème pies when I was little because she knew how much I loved them. Later, when I was a grown woman with a young family I began pie baking on my own.

These recipes below began as someone else's. I'm not sure why I never obtained Gramma Minnie's recipe but like all good recipes, they've evolved over the years and I think, improved over time.

I've included some tips that I've adopted that have made pie baking easier. One I learned from another great cook in our family, Auntie Roselyn Baglini on my mom's side. The notes in italics are from my own experience in baking pies.

Like anything worthwhile, it takes practice. Remember there is no such thing as a bad pie. Don't worry what it looks like! Once its sliced no one will give a wit. If you remember to include all the ingredients, it will taste great I promise.

One last thing, the best pie crust has both butter and shortening: butter for the flavor and shortening for the flake factor, Pie Baker's Honor.

Shiree's Best Banana Crème Pie

Pie Crust from The Silver Palate Cook Book

2 1/2 C. unbleached all purpose flour
2 t. sugar
1 t. salt
8 T. unsalted butter, chilled
6 T. solid vegetable shortening, chilled
5 to 6 T ice water, as needed

1. Sift the flour, sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the chilled butter and shortening. Working quickly and using your fingertips or a pastry blender, rub or cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture resemble coarse meal.

Please note, I have also had success blending the flour and butter with two knives as well as with my Cuisinart food processor with steel blade fitting.

2. Sprinkle on the ice water, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, and toss with a fork. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and using the heel of your hand, smear the dough away from you, about 1/4 cup at a time. Scrape it up into a ball and wrap in wax paper. Flatten it into a flat cylinder for expediency. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour. Don't leave it in too long or it becomes hard to work with.

3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out (I swear by my wooden roller) to 1/4 inch thickness on a floured work surface. For a single crust pie, line a 9 inch pie plate with half of the dough and reserve the other half for the top of the pie or save for another single crust pie.

Keep lifting the pie dough to allow flour to distribute beneath it. To transfer the dough from work surface to pie pan it helps to first fold it in half. I have an extra wide spatula for this purpose, it's about six inches wide.

4. To prebake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

5. Line the dough in the pie plat with aluminum foil and fill with beans or rice to weight it. Bake for 8 minutes, then remove the beans and lining. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork and return the pie plate to the oven until the crust is golden brown, 10 to 13 minutes longer.

Makes one 9 inch double crust or two 9 inch single crust pies.

Banana Crème Filling adapted from Joy of Cooking

3 bananas, peeled and sliced into bite sized pieces
2/3 C. sugar
1/4 C. plus 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 t. salt
2 C. whole milk
3 egg yolks
3 T. butter
1/2 vanilla bean (split and seeds gently scraped out)

You need a double boiler aka Bain Marie for this recipe. That means that the pot on the bottom next to the heat source has the boiling water and the top pot holding the ingredients fits nicely inside the bottom pot. This allows your filling (also known as custard in cook's terms) to cook evenly and without sticking to the pan too much.

In the top of a double boiler over boiling water, combine sugar, flour and salt. Add 2 cups of milk and stir constantly for about ten minutes or until mixture thickens.

Remove from heat.

Beat eggs slightly in a heat proof bowl. While whisking eggs, add a little spoonful of the hot mixture to the eggs, then another spoonful, then another, until the bowl with the eggs has warmed. Once the eggs are warmed you can add them to the remaining hot mixture. 

The reason for this extra step is if you try to add cold eggs to the hot mixture all at once without slowly warming the eggs, they will curdle.

Whisk until smooth then add warmed eggs to the rest of the hot mixture until thickened. Remove from heat again and add 3 tablespoons butter and vanilla beans. Cool slightly before turning into the banana filled, prebaked crust. Filling with thicken as it cools.

Divine. Decadent. Old fashioned goodness. Do let Joy of Nesting know how your pie turns out!

What are your Easter traditions? Please share with us!


Tangy Bean and Rice Soup with Eastern Spices

Switching to vegetarianism is no great sacrifice, trust me. It does however, require one to venture outside one's usual cooking comfort zones. And that has turned out to be a good thing for me.

I made a soup yesterday with the most amazing flavors. My poor photography does it no justice at all but trust me when I say it's delicious. I don't really DO recipes but I'll provide you with the key ingredients and "close enough" quantities and hope you can figure it out from there.

Tangy Bean and Rice Soup with Eastern Spices

1 28 oz. roasted organic tomatoes (I get mine at Whole Foods)
1 15 oz. can organic kidney beans, rinsed well
1 15 oz. can organic navy beans, rinsed well
10 cloves roasted garlic (you can buy these at most grocery store olive bars)
24 oz. organic vegetable stock (I love Pacific brand because it no additives)
1 C. cooked brown rice
2 t. curry (taste test and don't overdo)
3 t. turmeric (key ingredient)
2 big pinches Mexican oregano (if you can't find Mexican oregano, just omit it!)
a few dashes organic garlic granules (also from Whole Foods)
fresh ground sea salt to taste

Put all ingredients together in a large stock pot and simmer over medium heat for twenty to thirty minutes. Don't let it boil, just simmer.

Adjust seasoning.

The flavors meld quite nicely. You can add a few bay shrimp if you feel you need meat. Enjoy!

Make Over My Sofa!

I called my upholstery workroom last week to talk about changing a client's existing cushion back sofa to a pillow back. "Walt", whose opinion I trust implicitly, said that pillow backs tend to lack support. In other words, when you sit back against them, they flatten to the point that your back is up against the hard frame, offering little or no support. Image Serena and Lily.

I don't usually do pillow backs but the client was looking for a way to change the appearance and comfort level of the sofa and they asked how practical this option would be. Walt and I talked it over and decided the way to make the pillows more supportive would be to place a larger pillow form inside a smaller decorative covering.

The main fabric will be the silvery gray silk velvet above. It will have a back of five twenty four inch pillows: three in the taupe velvet with a contrasting zigzag welt, and two in the zigzag fabric with a Terra Cotta colored, brushed fringe.

Problem solved. New look. Improved comfort.

Greens with Mango, Black Beans, Red Pepper, Walnuts and Roasted Garlic

For a delicious way to get a big portion of your daily requirements of fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans out of the way in one fell swoop, try this big salad I created for lunch last week.

mixed greens
roasted red bell peppers, chopped
mango, chopped
black beans
toasted walnuts, chopped
roasted garlic cloves, sliced
lime juice
extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground sea salt and pepper

For this dish I used roasted bell peppers I had prepared the night before for another dish. I purchased the roasted garlic at the olive bar at Safeway.

To toast walnut halves, break them up and put them in a small skillet over medium heat. Watch them carefully because they burn easily.

Place greens on a ten inch plate and top with remaining ingredients. Salt and pepper generously. Squeeze a generous amount of lime juice over salad and top with olive oil.

You can size this dish to each individual palate. I like to use generous portions of the toppings for maximum deliciousness. Don't skimp.

Amazing flavors, nutritious and super easy!

Enjoy your weekend, Shiree'

Six Basics for Choosing the Perfect Cocktail Table



Why are great cocktail tables so hard to find? Because the market has been inundated with bland designs, poor quality materials and predictable finishes. Take heart however. Once you understand a few tips from a "pro", you're on your way to finding the perfect table. Image above, House Beautiful.

There are six basics to consider: size, shape, material, function, finish and style.

Since the cocktail table sits smack in the center of the most important room in the home, you want to choose it carefully. In most design schemes it's meant to be a backdrop to the artwork, antiques and fabric elements in the room like the sofa, chairs and window treatments.


Cocktail tables are like a great haircut. They flatter the overall appearance of the décor without over powering any of the other elements. They should be classic, well constructed and have enough personality to show you put some time and thought into choosing them.

When I choose cocktail tables for my design projects I prefer to choose them after I have chosen my sofa and chair frames and fabrics. Cocktail tables are "accents", meant to accentuate the other elements in the room.

They are the piece de resistance. The icing on the cake.


The widest part of the cocktail table should measure between one half to two thirds of the sofa's overall width. You can go with a smaller table in tight spaces however, but larger ones will overpower the sofa. Heights will vary but generally they run around 18 inches. Don't worry too much about the height of your cocktail table. End tables, however, require more attention to this detail.


Rectangle shapes are easiest to work with in rooms both large and small but if space isn't an issue, square shapes can be really lovely too. Round tables of 30 inches are easiest to place but the larger round ones, such as 40 inches or more, are more practical in spacious living rooms.


Style is the most fun consideration. You can play it safe with just a simple gold or silver leaf frame or if you have time to go treasure hunting, you can find something truly unique. Pieces with personality are fun to work with as long as they don't overpower the rest of the décor. Whether you like classic or trendy, go for a subtle reference to the other furnishings in the room.


Function is important but there are few pieces that will meet every criteria. Some of us like to put our feet up on our tables while others want to reserve them for drinks, snacks, flowers and parties. If you must have the best of both worlds, keep that in mind when shopping. I accommodate both scenarios when choosing for my clients but it's not always a quick or easy process. More requirements translate into more shopping time.

The cocktail table is a recent invention, not 100 years of age yet. But there are antique tables that can be pressed into use such as the tea table. They are higher than today's cocktail tables and work best in formal rooms.

Vintage or retro tables tend to be low and wide. Lucite is a fun material but be sure to choose pieces in perfect condition.

An over or under accessorized cocktail table is purely a matter of preference. Personally, I love big stacks of hardbound coffee table books and perfectly sized flower arrangements in interesting pots. Their "heft" adds an anchoring effect to the middle of the room without looking too busy.


Measure the width of your sofa, identify the perfect size, shape, style and finish. Then find some reliable quality sources.

Book mark this post for future reference if you find it helpful, and please be sure to share!


C'mon Baby Light my Chandelier... Picks from a Recent Project

I've been sourcing light fixtures. A lot of them. Here are some of the picks that were passed up. They are none the less beautiful, however. All high quality. All relatively affordable. You won't have to take a second mortgage on the house.

They are classic, timeless and versatile. Let me know if you need exact pricing and lead times on any of these.


I have used this company for over a dozen years so they're a tried and true resource. Oh, and the fixture we ended up going with?

It's this one. Ta-da!

Best Greek Salad

Whether I eat lunch at home or out, a big salad is my menu of choice. This one is absolutely delicious and I wanted to share it with you. All of the salads I make are a meal in one. I use a 10 inch buffet plate. No tiny salad plates for me.

This dish is also wonderful with bay shrimp or larger, wild shrimp.

Mixed greens
Artichokes hearts (I used marinated Cara Mia Artichoke Hearts but you can used the ones packed in water too)
Kalamata olives
Cherry tomatoes
Sheep's milk Feta
Fresh squeezed lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Dried basil, thyme and a tiny bit of oregano, to taste.


Spring Time at SHS... Bespoke Design Schemes

Spring is just a few weeks away and we are preparing for a very busy one here at ye olde design studio.

The larger of my design projects always begins with two to three, very detailed design presentations tailored for each individual client. I call them my Bespoke Design Schemes and they are the foundation of my work. They are also the fun part of what I do and what the clients look forward to the most...besides installation day of course.

Each scheme includes pictures like the ones shown here; written concepts explaining my choices; written estimates and quotes for things like furniture, upholstery, window coverings, pillows and lighting; overall scheme cover sheets to see their budgets at a glance; and what I consider the highlight of my schemes, beautiful fabric sample combinations, placed on easy to handle rings and labeled with the item the fabric will go on.

The client chooses their favorite of the custom tailored schemes usually based on aesthetics. Occasionally they want to make little changes such as swapping out a chair or a fabric and that's okay because there's generally some flexibility worked into the schemes. A mix and match option if you will.

Putting together these design schemes takes time and patience certainly. But putting together fabrics, colors and furnishings that are aesthetically pleasing requires a special instinct. If Bespoke Design Schemes are the foundation of my business, fabric designs are my niche. They are what pulls together the architecture, artworks, antiques and any existing furnishings we plan to work with.

Every client has a different set of criteria ranging from color preferences to spatial requirements to elements of style. Working within those perimeters is something I enjoy immensely because it number one, narrows my research and number two, gives me a fabulous challenge.

This cocktail table is small scale, perfect for a project I'm currently working on.

Since each client project is unique, every Bespoke Design Scheme is done from scratch. Endless hours are spent at the design center choosing possible fabrics and furnishings. When I return to the office, I also visit websites of my favorite sources.

 Each SHS Bespoke Design Scheme comes with:
  • A beautiful "bee logo" booklet.
  • Two to three striking fabric schemes in unique textures, patterns and colors for all seating, pillows and window coverings. They are labeled for intended use and placed on rings for easy viewing.
  • Written concepts explaining a little about the various schemes and why I chose what I chose.
  • Written budgets at a glance.
  • Written quotes and estimates on every proposed piece and fabricated item.
  • High quality colored pictures of furniture such as sofas, chairs and dining room tables, and accessories such as lighting and beautiful area rugs.
  • CAD (computer aided draft) as needed.
  • Cover sheet explaining the overall process.
Please contact my office today to set up a phone interview. We can discuss your project briefly and decide if a Bespoke Design Scheme package is for you.

209-532-2193. Pricing varies per package. Spring special on SHS Bespoke Design Schemes March 20th to April 1st.


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