Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tablescapes, Parties and Easter...Oh My!

It has been a long, cold winter. I think most of us are more than ready for spring...and that means Easter is just around the corner. I don't know about you, but I am ready for flowers, spring colors and sunshine! I hope that the table setting that I'm sharing with you today reminds you of all of those things.

I started with a tablecloth I've had for years but never used. Look at all of those spring colored eggs. The dinner plates are a recent TJ Maxx purchase. I bought the only 6 they had...I will be looking for more. They are Bianca Leaf by American Atelier. The dessert plates are new from Wal-Mart, $1 each...they are plastic and come in several spring colors. I used white napkins, folded into bunnies-see the whiskers?

I used gold flatware because of all the yellow on the table. The wine glasses I've had for several years. At each place setting I used a small pastel vase (Crate and Barrel) with a few marbles in it, and a colored egg. For perfect hard-boiled eggs, check out my post from last summer here. These would be perfect place "cards" but I don't like to tell people where to sit, so I don't use them.

See the bunny?

In the center of the table is my rabbit general store and family. They are Dept. 56. Papa Bunny is working behind the counter.

Mama Bunny has her chickens.

Baby Bunny is just getting home from school and the boy bunnies are playing ball.

On one corner of the table is an antique rabbit candy container.

The other side has a cut glass pitcher full of daffodils.

It seems that the store is even open at night!

I am linking today with Michelle @ maddycakesmuse for her Easter Tablescapes and Spring Parties Contest as well as a little early with Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. Please visit these ladies and see their wonderful blogs.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Would You Like A Scone With That Tea? Foodie Friday

The scone is a small British quickbread (or cake if recipe includes sugar) of Scottish origin. Scones are especially popular in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United States, and Canada, but are eaten in many other countries. They are usually made of wheat, barley or oatmeal, with baking powder as a leavening agent. The scone is a basic component of the cream tea or Devonshire tea. (Wikipedia)

     I have been in the mood for scones. I've made several different recipes in the past few days and have come up with one that both my husband and I loved. Scones can be delicious, or they can be dry and tasteless. The recipe that we liked the best started with a recipe posted on that I tweeked a bit to our taste. 

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
pinch salt
4 tsp. baking powder
5 T. unsalted butter
1/2 cup dried mixed berries (or any dried fruit you prefer)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream

1 egg beaten with 1 T. milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

In a large bowl whisk together (or use a fork) the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into chunks and mix it in with the flour mixture until crumbly. Some people use a fork, some a pastry blender...I use my hands (very clean hands). The result will be dry and powdery with small pieces of butter through it. Add the dried fruit and toss with flour mixture.

In a bowl or the measuring cup, mix the sour cream with the 1/2 cup milk. Pour into dry mixture and stir just until blended.

The dough will still be a bit dry (not like cake batter).

Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, scoop out dough and roll into a ball. Place on greased cookie sheet and slightly flatten. Brush with egg/milk mixture. Let sit for 10 minutes before putting them in the oven. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. You can freeze these. They are best if you reheat them in the oven instead of the microwave, but I've done both. Don't they look good? A little butter and strawberry jam? Really, they are very good plain. Enjoy!

Please join Michael @ Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.
You will find the best recipes in all of Blogland!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Take One Old Wreath...

     Today is another gray day in my part of the country. I really just had to do something to remind myself that spring was just around the corner. I headed to the storage room in the basement to dig out an old wreath to makeover for the front of my house.

     The wreath that was the size I wanted to use had been hanging down there for quite a while. All of the flowers had been stripped from it, all that was left was some old, faded fall ribbon.

     After pulling off all the old ribbon and globs of glue, I had a clean slate to start fresh. On my last visit to Hobby Lobby I had purchased 2 bushes of flowers when I fell in love with the colors. I happened to be there on the day that they were each half off the $24.99 price.

Ribbon was also half price that day.

     When I "build" a wreath, I like to start by tearing apart all of the bushes into blooms, leaves and whatever else happens to be on the stems. For this wreath, I started by placing the blooms randomly around the wreath.

Then I start adding the leaves. I don't glue anything until I have everything in place.

I added all the dark green leaves, then added the brown leaves with the tipped edges.

Next, I stuck in the little branches and twigs to add a little more interest to the shape.

I almost always put a bow on my wreaths.
I don't think they all have to have them, but I love making bows.
You can see my tutorial on bow making here.

I also like to tuck in little pieces of ribbon randomly through the wreath.

The finished product is ready to hang outside on the front of our house...
if the snow ever stops and the sun ever shines!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Do You

     If you read my recent post about Nancy Drew books, you know I have had a lifelong obsession love of books. Sometimes I want a book to be brand new, all mine and untouched by the hands of others. Okay, really I always want them to brand new, but I can't always afford every book I want, so I settle for a little wrinkle in a cover, a bent corner or a little bit of loving use. I've used for years. When my daughter was in college, we literally saved hundreds of dollars on her textbooks buying and selling them through this website.

     My most recent purchase started innocently. I had a picture of a book torn from a magazine. I googled the title and found they had it on I immediately went to the site and ordered the book.

Phyllis Hoffman's book was mine for $6.43! Woo Hoo! Of course now I was on the webpage and it asked if I wanted to continue shopping...that is where the trouble began.

A Nell Hill book for under a dollar, Shabby Chic for $3.09. It didn't stop there...I was in the decorating section and a few more clicks and look what I found...

All three of these were under a dollar each.

This one was calling my name for $2.78. I love it!

Who could resist the title of this one?
The Relaxed Kitchen: How to Entertain With Casual Elegance
and Never Lose Your Mind, Incinerate the SoufflĂ© or Murder the Guests
It was only .75!

     What about shipping? You do pay $3.99 per book shipping, unless you happen to do what I did...combine purchases. Once I put a book I wanted in my shopping cart, I tried to find other books from the same seller. Each book from the same seller has a slightly lower shipping charge. Sometimes that worked, sometimes not. My total for all of the above books, plus a landscaping book that I picked up for my husband ($1.89) was $42.37 including the shipping. The retail price of the original book I was looking for, $24.99.

     I buy so many books from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Borders and Books-a-Million that I would never suggest that anyone should stop buying books through these wonderful stores/websites. There is nothing better that being the first person to open the pages of a new book. On the other hand, sometimes it is fun to get a big package in the mail and not know exactly what you are getting. Now, if I could just find the time to sit down and read them all!

Worth it!

* I was not compensated by for this review.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Did Someone Say Cloche Party?

     I've come a long way since I started blogging in August. I not only know what a cloche is...I actually have a couple of my own now. I won't say I'm as creative with them as some, I'm not. I do think it is fun trying to figure out what special little things to tuck into them. Marty @ A Stroll Thru Life is hosting a Cloche Party today. Make sure you visit her and see all the creative ideas that people come up with.

     The cloche I'm using today I found at Marshalls. It actually came with basil seeds and little pots to grow the basil indoors. Well, the seeds won't go to waste, but they won't be planted in this cloche.

     See how the paint is all chippy? I'm actually trying out the Shabby Chic look. I even tied a bit of burlap around the top! I added a little reindeer moss and a bird's nest. I found the darling little bird at Cracker Barrel and I knew it wanted to come home with me.

     I've yet to figure out the best way to take pictures of a cloche. I tried to get a close-up, but the reflection makes it blur a bit.

     A few weeks ago I found this silver tray at a local thrift shop for $4. A little silver polish and now I have this:

Thank you Marty for another fun party!

Pears, Goat Cheese...Need I Say More? Foodie Friday

Is there anything more beautiful than a simple pear?

With just a few ingredients and very little time, you can prepare a Delicious
salad  that is nice enough for company and yet simple enough for family.

1 bag of spinach (don't forget to rinse it, even if it says pre-washed)
goat cheese (I used 3 oz. for this salad, you can add as much as you like)
1/2 cup (or more if you like) toasted nuts* (I used walnuts. You could use pecans, almonds or pine nuts)
1 pear-cored and thinly sliced

Place the spinach in a large bowl, top with sliced pears, goat cheese and cooled toasted nuts. Drizzle with Orange Vinaigrette before serving.

Orange Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 heaping T. orange marmalade
2 T. sugar
1 T. spicy mustard
pinch salt and pepper
Place in bowl and whisk until well blended. You can leave out the marmalade if you don't happen to have it, you may need to add a bit more sugar to sweeten the dressing.

I will be serving this salad with pork chops. I will also pour a bit of the dressing over the pork chops and let them marinate before cooking.

*To toast the walnuts (or whatever nuts you are using) I use a piece of foil with the ends turned up so that I can remove it easily from the oven. You can use a cookie sheet, but I’d rather throw away foil than wash something else. Place them in the cold oven, turn it on to 350 degrees and bake about 10 minutes. They can burn easily, so watch them closely. You will know they are toasted when you can just begin to smell them. Remove from oven, and let cool a few minutes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chinese New Year-Tablescape Thursday

Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch is our hostess for Tablescape Thursday. If you have never participated, give it a try. You will be addicted just like the rest of us! Be sure to visit Susan, she always has something special to share and you will find links to wonderful tablescapes.

     Sunday was not only Valentine's Day, it was also Chinese New Year. I finally had a chance to use this set of dishes. I bought this set at a charity auction several months ago. I had such good intentions of learning Asian cooking and using them all the time. I've decided that now that I've done this tablescape, I'm going to sell the dishes. I only set the table for 4, but I actually have service for 8. It even came with sixteen pair of chopsticks...we simply aren't going to use them and I need the space! So, this may be the only time you see them.

     I'm sure you can see why I fell in love with these dishes. The colors are so vibrant. I wasn't sure what to use on the table, but I found I had a vintage embroidered tablecloth that worked very well. I felt that the table should be fairly simple and that the dishes should really be the decorative feature. Each place setting has the large plate that can be used as a charger, the dinner plate, appetizer plate and soup bowl. To the left, the rice bowl and sauce dish. Above the plate is the holder for the damp napkin and of course the chopsticks.

I had a hard time not picking up reflections in the plates.

I have no idea what the lettering means...I hope it isn't anything bad!

     Don't you just love the teapot and the cute little black teacups? I decided to only use 2 of the matching vases with a simple orchid type flower in them. The votives are an unusual shape and actually put out very little light.

     This is the first time I've done a tablescape that really looked better in natural light than by candlelight. I think the fact that the votives put out so little light made the images blur a bit.

     Now, if only I had a fabulous menu planned to go with this tablescape. I've decided that takeout from my local Chinese or Thai restaurant is as close as I'm going to get!