Monday, January 31, 2011

How To Be The Best Grandma Ever!

     Do you see these happy faces? What brought on all those smiles? Just tell your little ones that they get to take part in a taste test...for what they think is ICE CREAM! When I found out that the wonderful folks at Roba Dolce were going to send me some of their Gelato or Sorbetto to sample, I expected to receive one or two single serving size containers. My face looked just like the kids when my box arrived on Friday and I opened it to find all of these wonderful flavors inside. It arrived frozen solid, packed in dry ice and I was tempted to just have a party all by myself.

     Roba Dolce started in Providence, Rhode Island and wanted to bring authentic Italian Gelato and Sorbetto to the New World. Being so successful in their shops has led them to package the product and make it available in grocery stores all over the country.

     After dinner, I got out all the flavors and opened them on the counter. You should have seen my little grandson's faces! I thought it would be fun to do a Gelato/Sorbetto tasting because we had 3 generations in our house and I wondered how different our opinions would be.

     I made little sample cups of each flavor and the tasting began. The Gelato flavors of coconut, chocolate and pistachio were rich, creamy and tasted almost sinful. My husband doesn't like coconut and yet he thought this was delicious. He commented that he even loved the flavors that he normally doesn't like. The Sorbetto flavors of mango and lemon were tart, refreshing and good for you! So, did we agree on a "winner"? Nope, we all had our favorites. My 2-year-old grandson loved the mango, liked all the other flavors except the pistachio. I wish you could have seen his face when he tried it! My 4-year-old grandson liked all the flavors, but the lemon sorbetto was his favorite. He said it tasted "like lemonade". My son, at 28, liked the mango sorbetto the best and also loved the lemon. He liked the texture of sorbetto better than that of gelato, but truthfully loved all the flavors. My husband (who is a very picky eater) liked the lemon sorbetto and the pistachio gelato the best, but he even liked the chocolate and coconut, two flavors he never eats.

     I loved them all. I have found myself over the weekend going to the freezer for dips of coconut and pistachio, so I guess those are my favorites but the mango is delicious and the chocolate is a rich, dark chocolate with chunks of chocolate in it. There will be days when I may sit down with that carton and a spoon! The lemon was a bit tart for my taste, but as you can was a favorite with others in my family.

     This was a really generous opportunity to try a product that will now be a favorite at our house. It also became a fun event that had us all feeling like little kids and certainly impressed my grandsons. For more information on Roba Dolce Gelato and Sorbetto,
click here for their website.

*I was provided samples from Roba Dolce. I was not instructed on what to say, the opinions expressed are my own and that of my family.

I am joining Mary @ Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mom's Brownies (no mixer needed)

     One of our favorite "go to" recipes in my family is my mother's brownie recipe. When I got married (back in the olden days), my mom made me a steno notebook with some of her favorite and easiest recipes. I was 20 years old and just learning to cook. As you can see, that notebook has seen a lot of kitchen time, but I could never copy the recipe anywhere else. Very early on I decided to double my mom's recipe for a thicker brownie, so make sure you read my recipe and not hers! She liked her brownies very thin.

2 sticks melted butter
2 cups sugar
4 heaping Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. vanilla

nuts or chocolate chips are optional

    Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Melt the butter in a 9 x 13 pan in which you are going to bake the brownies. In the meantime mix the sugar and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl.

     Pour the melted butter into the sugar and cocoa and mix well. Do not over mix. Leave enough butter in the 9 x 13 pan to grease the pan. Stir in the eggs until well blended, again do not over mix. Stir in the flour and vanilla. At this point you can add a cup or so of nuts or chips or both if you want to. I like nuts in mine, but I was giving these away and you never know who might have an allergy.

Pour into prepared pan.

     The baking time is a little tricky. It depends on how "raw" you like your brownies. I bake mine about 35 minutes, until I can smell them baking and a toothpick comes out clean. Some people really prefer their browine on the uncooked side, so I suggest that at 25 minutes you start watching them closely and checking the center for the texture your family prefers. Easy, homemade and inexpensive to make. Enjoy.

I am joining Michael @ Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday
The blog that will make you hungry!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Coffee is On!

     For my birthday in October, my dad gave me 8 snack/dessert plates and coffee sups. He found them at a local resale store in Florida. I thought it was so great that I even have my dad looking at things for my tablescapes. I thought that they would be perfect for a simple breakfast of scones, fruit, juice and coffee. I started the table with a crocheted runner that a good friend gave me. I told her that it is just "on loan". Now that she will see how pretty it is on the table, I think she should come get it back and use it on her gorgeous table.

     Placemats and napkins are kept very simple. I opted to avoid using color, so that the colors of the fruits on the dishes would stand out.

I used sprigs of faux raspberries and blackberries along the runner.

     The centerpiece is a crystal bowl filled with sparkling fruits. The bowl was a recent giveaway win from Bonnie @ Creative Decorating on a Budget.

     The fruits in the bowl I found at my mom's. They were actually ornaments and they don't look at all like anything my mom would have used in her home. We have no idea why she had them, but I'm glad she did!

The juice pitcher and matching glasses were a
wedding gift back in the 70's.

A closer look at the china.

     For just a touch of elegance, you can always add a little silver. The coffee server was found in my in-laws garage and the sterling cream and sugar were my mother's.

Silverplate flatware from Ebay that you've seen on many of my tables.

No candlelight this week. Even I can't justify candles for breakfast!

The coffee is ready...wish you were here!

I'm joining Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch
for Tablescape Thursday.
Please stop in and say hello to our gracious hostess.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rags to Riches...Well, Ugly to Better!

     When our area upscale furniture store had their tent sale a few months ago, I picked up these two very sad topiaries for $5 each. As you can see, they really had been neglected or at least well used as store displays. I didn't know what I would do with them, but I did see the potential.

The moss was missing in several places.

     The bases had a few chips and the paint was dirty looking. Last week, armed with a can of Rust-oleum American Accents Stone spray paint, and 14 vined picks that I bought for 97 cents each, I got busy. I wrapped the cone shapes in newspaper and sprayed the bases. After they were dry, using a glue gun I attached some moss I had at home to the bare spots. Each vine pick had several "branches" and I cut them apart. Starting at the bottom of the cone, using the glue gun, I attached the vine. Working in a circle all the way to the top of the cone.

I was pleasantly surprised at the result!

The paint gave the base a cleaner look. I had planned to "age"
them a bit, but I thought they looked better for my house like this.

I didn't have anything for Valentine's Day out
at my house, so I added a bit of red ribbon for a pop of color.

I placed the pair on a library table (which was my grandmother's
 many years ago) with a Valentine vignette between them.

     The vintage postcards and keys I pulled from last week's tablescape. The sterling tray belonged to my parents as wells as the silver bowl with the tulips in it. A sweet vintage tea towel and candle finish the look.

This week I am joining:

Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch for Met Monday
Marty @ A Stroll Thru Life for Table Top Tuesday
Linda @ Coastal Charm for Nifty Thrifty Tuesday
Kim @ Savvy Southern Style for her Boring to Better Party Wednesday

Make sure you visit our wonderful hostesses this week!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thank You!

I have a little "business" to take care of today.

     Before Christmas I was the lucky winner of  a Giveaway from Bonnie @ Creative Decorating on a Budget. I was gone for the holidays, so I had her wait to ship my box of fun goodies. Cute slippers, fun towels, beautiful ornaments and a crystal bowl that I can't wait to use for a tablescape. I also received a CSN gift code and was able to purchase another piece for my Le Creuset collection. Thankfully, this isn't the one that was recently broken.

I have also recently been given the Stylish Blogger Award
by two wonderful bloggers.

Patrice @ The Old Back Porch and

     According to this award, I should list 7 things about myself and then pass it along to seven bloggers. Since so many bloggers have "award free" blogs and because there are so many of you that I think are very stylish, I'm going to say that I think all of the blogs I read are very deserving. If I didn't think that...I wouldn't be reading them! Bonnie, Patrice and Nellie all have wonderful blogs and are very devoted readers. I am so honored to consider all of them friends and I hope you will take time to get to know them.

Seven things about me that you might not know:

1. I met my husband for the first time when we were in the 3rd grade and rode a float in a parade together. We didn't meet again until high school, didn't date until college and got married our junior year of college. What were we thinking?

2. The only sport I ever did really well was water ski. I even climbed off my ski and onto someone's shoulders without falling once.

3. I was a pom pom girl in high school.

4. We have lived in 5 towns and 8 homes since we got married. We often say that we feel "homeless" because of all the changes. I know there is at least one more town in our future, but we haven't figured out where it will be.  

5. I once owned a small gift boutique, my favorite part was going to market in Atlanta. I don't think I ever really earned any money, but I had a great time!

6. I started college at 17 and graduated at 45.

7. I've always lived in Illinois, but I'm a southern girl at heart. I feel much more at home when I see palm trees and water.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Slow Cooker Italian Stew With Gnocchi

     My dad gave me a recipe when he was here over Christmas. It was something he had tried at his local grocery store and then he had made it at home and really liked it. I wasn't able to get the exact ingredients in my part of the country, but I took his recipe and adapted it to what I could get and this is what I came up with.


2 pounds beef stew meat
1 medium onion
1 3 oz bag sundried tomatoes
1 14 oz. can beef broth
1 24 oz. jar marinara sauce
1 16 oz. package gnocchi pasta
dried spaghetti sauce mix (use about 1 heaping T. from envelope)
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
Parmesan cheese to garnish if desired

     Put all the ingredients except the gnocchi into the slow cooker. I left my sundried tomatoes whole. Next time I would slice them. I also left the onion whole. I don't eat onions, but I like the flavor. This way I could remove the onion after cooking.

     Cook in slow cooker 4-6 hours (I did mine 4 hours on the high setting). Put in gnocchi for the last 20 minutes of cooking time. The gnocchi should be tender and the meat should be falling apart.

I served the stew with the bread I made here.

This one was a hit with my husband.

I'm joining Michael @ Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.
Please take some time to check out all this week's
wonderful recipes!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Little Pampering Might Help!

     It is no secret to my family that I "don't do winter" very well. It isn't the cold weather that gets to is the lack of sunshine and the feeling of being stuck in the house. This year the sun seems to be on vacation far away from Illinois! I find myself having to fight the urge to pull a blanket over my head and sleep until spring. I decided a little pretty pampering might perk me up. A little cocoa, beautiful white tulips and some vintage linens and silver brightened up my afternoon.

I was really happy to find white tulips
 at Walmart last night, they are my favorite!

I've had this cocoa pitcher for so long that
I don't remember where it came from.
Today, it became a vase!

Vintage Valentines make me smile.
A few old keys tied with a bit of ribbon
add a little color to my tray.

The silver pieces were my mothers. I love
this rectangular tray and the glass-bottomed
dish looks so pretty with red hots in it.

A delicate napkin softens the look.

The hot chocolate served in a big mug was
perfect while waiting for the big snowfall that
is expected tonight!

I am joining Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch for
Tablescape Thursday. I really appreciate Susan for hosting
the party every week. Please take time to visit her today!