"Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter brunch

Our standard Easter brunch has evolved into scones, soft-boiled eggs, fresh fruit, coffee & juice. It's elegant, simple, easy & yummy. We made a plum simple syrup for our tea for dinner (equal parts sugar & water w/ a peeled, chopped ripe plum...simmered together until the plum is squishy. Strain) & used some of the syrup on our fruit salad (strawberries, plums, pears & mini-tangerines) @ breakfast. I think it was my all-time favorite sauce for fruit. It really brought the flavors of the fruit & added a bit of sweetness w/out overpowering. I used tulle ribbon & little crocheted carrots to decorate the dining room chandelier.

For the placesettings, I use Bordallo cabbage dinner plates w/ vintage bunny plates from Sigma (they're from the 70's...I guess that qualifies as vintage nowadays). The centerpiece is a faux rabbit topiary & a faux chocolate egg, made out of paper mache.

We didn't add anything to the scones this time...we usually add dried fruit & maybe some white chocolate chips. They were great plain & not too sweet for a change. The recipe I use is from allrecipes.....http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Grandma-Johnsons-Scones/Detail.aspx The sour cream makes all the difference....they come out moist & not too crumbly.

I'm having puter issues so will post the pictures from easter dinner sometime next week.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Some Easter decor

Esater came so late this year (and I was so far behind) that I didn't do anything in the bedrooms or bathrooms or den...I'll do those for spring next week.

And I didn't change much on my coffee table arrangement. Just switched a couple of pieces to Easter decor & called it quits. I adore the carrot pillow on the chair in the background...it has beads on it. ;o) I got a pair of them @ TJ Maxx or Ross (can't remember which). The other one is on my sofa.

Remember the bone china bowls I found while thrifting recently? Here's one w/ a nest of shredded paper, eggs & an old postcard.

A framed piece of sheet music from the 40's that I have on my kitchen island. Last year, I featured this in a tablescape for a bunny fondue dinner. Fun... Fun! I'll share pics next week of that tablescape.
My mantel. I plan on painting the old mirror white but I haven't had it for long & I like to live w/ things for a while before changing them, to make sure that's what I want to do w/ them.

A treasured Easter photo of my kids. Still in it's tacky 80's frame! And that's exactly where it will remain! ;o)
My china cabinet in the living room. I have another stacked cake display on top but I'm not happy w/ it so I won't feature it in a photo. I store so many dishes in this china cabinet that I really should reinforce the shelves. I love this bunny on wheels!

I really love this old mantel topper/ bombe chest marriage. I've had the mantel topped for years & years & couldn't find a partner to it, to match the wood. Didn't want to paint it because the dark wood is just so beautiful. I finally found this bombe chest at auction recently. They look like they were made for each other!

A sheet of old sheet music from the 50's. I was going to frame it but it's sometimes easier to fit them into my vignettes as bases rather than framed pictures since they tend to be big.
My stacked cake plates. I wanted to feature my sugar eggs. I got them, separately, at thrift stores about 6 or 7 years ago. I'm gonna make some myself someday. Seriously....I am! You don't believe me? Neither does my husband. ;o) I've heard that you shouldn't handle them or or the oil from your skin discolors them but I don't have the heart to make them hands-off to the grands. I figured if they discolored, that I would just make a couple of my own. Anyway, after several years, and much grubby handling, they are still pristine.

I also used some chocolate egg tea-lights, faux chicks, mini-tree, a porcelain bunny & porcelain chicks & pearl necklaces in a jar. Love the vintage looking bunnys I got at Cracker Barrel last year @ 75% savings.

The inside of the large sugar egg. Cute! One of these days, I really am going to make one of my own.

Inside the itty-bitty egg . Don't ask me how I was able to get such a great shot! As my photos can attest, I am no photographer but this one turned out pretty dang good, huh?

This apothecary jar is on top of the mantel topper/ bombe chest. It has another old Easter postcard inside.

Hope you enjoyed my vignettes...would love to see yours!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Making marshmallows

My grandsons are out on spring break so our eldest, Connor, went to work w/ Grouchy & Caeden & I did some pre-Easter baking. We made raspberry-flavored marshmallows & chocolate egg-shaped cupcakes. I froze the cupcakes, unfrosted, & I'll thaw them on Sat to decorate then. The recipe I used for the marshmallows was Alton Brown's. I'll just post the link instead of taking up blog space w/ the recipe. http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_88610,00.html
Since powdered sugar already has cornstarch in it, I omitted that. I used a tsp of raspberry extract instead of vanilla & I added just a hint of rose pink food coloring. These were better than the gourmet ones I bought last week but be prepared for a sticky mess when it gets to be time to spread it in the pan. It cleaned up easy enough though...thank goodness!

BTW You will probably need a heavy duty mixer to make these. I once made a batch of Ina Garten's Toasted Coconut Marshmallows, before I got my KitchenAid, & it bogged down my stand mixer big time. The marshmallow crawled all the way up the beaters to the head of the machine! I thought the mixer was going to blow a gasket! LOL

Forgive my coffeemaker mess...it came off it's unde-cabinet base this weekend & hubby & I are going to buy a new one instead of remounting this one. Word to the wise...never buy a Black & Decker Spacemaker coffee-maker...you can't pour a cup w/out making a mess, no matter how hard you try.

Here's Caeden checking the progress.

Getting ready to put the extract & food coloring in.

Look at the look of contentment on his face!

These were even prettier than the gourmet ones I bought too! *said w/ pride* The pizza cutter cut them very neatly...I just love Alton's tips!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

St Patrick's day dinner

I was pretty happy w/ my St Paddy's day table this year...although it did not come easily. I probably fussed w/ it for a couple of hours. I don't know what it is about St Paddy's tables that gives me such a hard time. Last year's table was downright embarrassing. If I had seen a picture of it on the web, I would have thought "well bless her heart...she's trying!" LOL

I always consider a table a success when it is one that would go in my inspiration file if it weren't one of my own. And I think this one would. I really wanted to shake up the green theme & bring out the blue in the irish coffee mugs but I also wanted to use this pashmina shawl as a runner & I couldn't get blue accents to work w/ it. Now that I've done the shawl, maybe I'll do green w/ touches of blue, next year.

If you click on the pictures they will enlarge for you

On the menu was a dish we for St Paddy's day the year before last. It's Trout With Cream & Honey Sauce (only I used tilapia instead of trout). Simple yet good! I don't know where I got this recipe...it's one that has been saved on my puter for a while. Excuse the imprecise measurements...I just guest-estimate when I make it. We also had Potato Collops, which is basically just an Irish name for scalloped potatoes.

Trout With Cream & Honey Sauce

1 ts honey
1 butter
1 whole almonds, skinned
4 ts fresh heavy cream
1 ts lemon juice
1 trout
1 flour (seasoned to taste)
1 milk (to soak trout in)

Chop the almonds finely. Prepare the fish, wash and dry and thensoak in milk for 5-10 minutes. Toss in seasoned four. Melt half thebutter in the frying pan, and fry the fish for 5-7 minutes on eachside. Make the sauce by melting the rest of the butter, adding thechopped almonds. Saute for a few minutes. Then add the honey andlemon juice; bring carefully to simmering point, and add the creamlast, making sure the temperature is fairly low so it won't curdle.Pour over the fried fish, and serve garnished with lemon.

Irish Coffee...yummmm!

Thsi is Irish Bananas over angel food cake. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Irish-Bananas/Detail.aspx?pos=1

As Alton would say..."those are good eats!"

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wanted to share some of last week's thrift store finds w/ y'all. I LOVE (translation= addicted to) thrift shopping. I love flea markets, garage sales, estate sales (although I hate the lines!) & thrift stores. I normally go once or twice a week & of course, I have to stop by any that I pass, while out & about. ;o) If I wasn't meant to go in the store, then God wouldn't have put me in the vicinity of it. LOL I save my husband a lot of money by thrift shopping...although he claims I spend a fortune doing so. This wasn't a bad haul for $15 so "Nyah!" to him.

I cannot resist a footed bowl & when I saw these two, bone china ones, I grabbed them. The two, tiny framed prints are by Thomas Kinkade. I'll keep the cottage one as is but I may switch out the bridge print & replace it w/ a letter C. I'll live w/ it for a while & see. (translation= I'll never do a thing w/ it)
The crystal thingie is a flower frog vase. Just insert the stems in the frog & instant arrangement...easy peasy. I think the little green plate will be very versatile in vignettes... @ only 75 cents, it was a must. Don't know why I bought the bamboo rug beater. Frankly, I've probably bought & then given away, half a dozen of them over the years. I don't know why I keep buying them & then getting rid of them...when I do things like that, it only gives credence to my husband's claims that I have a problem. *rolling my eyes* But this one looks cute hanging out w/my walking sticks so maybe I'll keep it. I don't do brass anymore (haven't since the 80's) but I think the little brass pitcher is cute. I may put it outside & let it get a verdigris patina before I use it for anything.
The candlestick lamp is just a cheap one but I can always use another accent lamp & it was only a couple of bucks. I bet I even have the perfect shade for it somewhere! Can't wait to use the chrysanthemum napkin rings in an all-white dinner table. And the little, silverplated basket will be sweet once it's polished (I spend so much time polishing silver that I don't have time to do brass!) & filled w/ Easter grass & some candy & a bunny or two.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Our first tea party!

My granddaughter, Caralyn, & I had our very first tea party this past week. I cannot tell you how much fun it was. She was the perfect tea partner. I thought she might be a little young (she's 2 & 1/2) but boy was I wrong...she was born to dine on tea! I decorated the table w/ vintage hats, jewelry, gloves (we played dress-up after the tea) pink depression glass & the sweetest little ballerina. Vintage necklaces hung from the chandy w/ teacup ornaments & we used vintage hankies as napkins. On the menu was Egg Salad Sandwiches (cut into flower shapes), Roasted Red Pepper Soup w/ Orange Cream, gourmet marshmallows (store-bought), fresh strawberries, sliced cukes, cinnamon-apple tea (the only decaf I had) & mini-orange vanilla cupcakes (I just added zest, orange flavoring & vanilla to a white cake mix) w/ orange/cream cheese frosting. I would have made more goodies if it hadn't just been Caralyn & I but I didn't see the point in overloading a 2 year old w/ sugar.
You can't really tell in this picture but Caralyn & her baby are wearing matching outfits. Don't they look adorable?

The gourmet marshmallows were too die for! We ate them all so I think I may make some homemade ones this next week for Easter.

I practically had to look all over town for sugar cubes! Jeez, this is Texas! Doesn't anyone feed them to their horses anymore?

Of course Caralyn's baby had to come to the party too...so I set her a place at the table! LOL

The Orange Vanilla Mini-Cupcakes w/ an orange flower water/cream cheese frosting ( I didn't want them to have an orange tone so I used flower water instead of zest) were pretty good but I thought they needed more flavor. Maybe some melted white chocolate added directly to the frosting. I didn't want to stress on this party....I wanted it to be all about fun so I garnished very simply w/ white chocolate shavings & picks left over from Valentine's.

Roasted Red Pepper soup.... this recipe calls for a splash of OJ & it really made the recipe. The soup paired very well w/ the egg salad sandwiches.
here's the recipe for the soup....

Roasted Red Pepper Soup w/ Orange Cream

1 tbp olive oil
2/3 cup chopped shallots
1 15 oz jar roasted red peppers, packed in water
1 tsp sugar (I used about double that)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbp whipping cream
tbp of grated orange zest
thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Saute shallots in oil for about 5 minutes, Add red peppers (w/ their liquid) & sugar & simmer for 2 minutes. Add broth & simmer for another 5 minutes. Puree the soup using either an immersion blender or in a countertop blender (allow to cool slightly if using a countertop model). Bring soup to a simmer again & add OJ, season w/ salt & pepper. Whisk whipping cream & zest until thickened. Ladle soup into bowls & drizzle w/ orange cream. Sprinkle w/ basil.

I'm embarrassed that my egg salad "flowers" are so sloppy! :o( I used gel food coloring to paint on the centers & even though I did it hours ahead of time, the bread didn't get soggy so that went well.And I discovered that Caralyn loves egg salad...although that may have been because she helped me fix it. Kids always like food better when they've had a hand in making it.

She's really getting into the process now! LOL

She so enjoyed her tea. I should have known she'd like the whole fou-fou'ness.

I see many, many more tea parties in our future! ;o)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Wow, it was a history-making day in North Texas yesterday

It snowed on March 6th! I can hardly believe it. On Wednesday, it was warm, in the 70's & I was spray-painting in the backyard....look what a difference a day makes!
I sure am glad I fed the birds on Wednesday when it was warm! I had doves, huddled on windowsills, trying to get a break from the cold. Made me want to invite them in! Here's two staking out a feeder.
Here's a couple of migrating sparrows happy to have found a buffet.

Last night was my eldest grandson, Connor's turn at sleeping over. We have four grandchildren & one on the way.... Connor who's 9, Caeden 5, Caralyn 2, Coleson 1 & ______ . They take turns spending the night ,two nights a week, so that we can get some one-on-one time w/ each of them. Normally on Connor's nights, he & Grouchy work on their car model (they have been building one model or another for 5 years) while I cook & putter & steal pics of the two of them. It warms my heart to watch them together, working on a model. I can see them in my mind's eye, years in the future, bent over some old hot rod; Connor tall & grown-up *excuse me while I get a tissue* & Chris looking older. (God, now I really need a tissue!) My two motorheads...I love them both!
Anyway, it was sooo cold that we all cuddled up on the couches, under blankets, to drink hot chocolate & watch a movie instead. We watched Secondhand Lions starring Robert Duvall & Michael Caine. I love that movie! It's a great movie to watch w/ kids & it's a great movie to watch w/out them. If you haven't seen it...you need to....seriously. ;o)

Snow's still out this morning but so is the sun so it's melting rapidly...just in time to refill my feeders. LOL