Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Love is in the Air!

     I don't actually do much decorating for Valentine's Day. I may add little touches of red here and there, but I don't have actual decorations anymore. Some of my favorite things to use are old sheet music, postcards and photographs. I finally took time over the weekend to go through a box of sheet music and postcards that my father-in-law gave me before he died. I pulled out several that I can't wait to use. I'm not sure what I will do with the ones I'm not going to use. Some may end up on Ebay and I do plan to do a giveaway including several vintage items soon. (Anyone have any other suggestions)? I used some "love themed" music on the top of my china cabinet, along with the beautiful vase my daughter gave me for my birthday and a few birds. A pop of ribbon ties it all in together.

     I put away most of my winter things and pulled out several birds for around the house. It just doesn't feel much like winter this year (it is in the 60's today) and I love that! I'm sure we will get a dose of snow soon, but the birds seemed to go better with what was going on outside.

I loved this sweet old postcard.

As always, working with my round table can
be a challenge. Lots of white, hints of Valentine red
 and birds create a slightly romantic look for the holiday.

I am joining Marty @  A Stroll Thru Life for Table Top Tuesday.
Please visit our wonderful hostess.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chocolate-Peanut Butter No-Bakes

     Do you ever have one of those days where you just need to "self-nurture"? You know, when for whatever reason you just wish you could call your mom and feel better? Well, for many of us, that isn't possible anymore...so, for me sometimes the combination of my love for cooking, an old favorite recipe of my grandmother's and of course a bit of chocolate tends to help for a moment. 

     If you are as old as I am, you will know this simple recipe. My dad's mother made these all the time. I'm sure it was created because it is made with ingredients that most people had in their kitchens all the time. I haven't made them in decades, but I saw them pinned on Pinterest a few days ago and I knew that I would be making them soon. Cookies today have more ingredients and tend to take longer to make. These go back to the days of simple, easy, inexpensive and made with staples.

     I don't even know the name of this recipe. My grandmother just called them "No-Bakes". They are sort of a cross between a cookie and a candy. They are not good for you...some days I just don't care about that!

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 heaping T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy)
3 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
2 tsp. vanilla

Add the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil, and boil for 1 minute. Stir in the next 3 ingredients and drop onto wax/parchment paper. Let cool until set. 

     You can use a scoop and make them prettier than mine. I used a spoon, my goal was to get them done and eat them! Yes, I had 2 while they were still a bit warm...and one later in the afternoon. Then, I put some on a plate and gave them away because I knew I was in trouble. Sometimes we just take a hug from our grandmothers any way we can get it...yesterday, mine was with a bit of chocolate and a lot of memories.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Black, It's White...

     Last week, I set a formal table, but this week I'm back to making my table more fun. I don't think you can ever go wrong with black and white. People often ask me how I decide what I'm going to use on a tablescape. I generally start with one item and build off of that. Sometimes it is something new that I've gotten, sometimes it is something I've had for years and just feel like sharing with all of you. It might be a fresh bouquet or garage sale wine glasses. I think if you start your table with something that makes you happy, the rest of the table will reflect that. This week my inspiration came from the polka dot bowls that I bought quite a while ago in the clearance section at Marshalls. They are marked 222 Fifth, Dotty Black and I just love the size and shape.

     For this table, I mixed all sorts of patterns, shapes and textures. The white dinner plates used as chargers are American Atelier, Bianca Leaf. The black dinner plates are Walmart. The white salad plates are 10 Strawberry Street and the snowflake bread and butter plates are Crate and Barrel.

     I realized when I was setting this table that even though I have many tablecloths, I rarely use them. I really prefer a runner and placemats. I like the way it looks and I really hate ironing tablecloths...runners are so much easier. I used a soft gray runner with black flowers today.

Charcoal flatware and black stemware finish the look.

Simple black napkins tied with a bit of ribbon are
 placed in an unusual location at each place setting.

     I love this vintage silver tray of my mother's. I use it all over the house. I added a white pitcher of tulips (you saw them earlier this week), crystal candlesticks with snowflake tapers and a few votives to the table. You can also see a black and white cream and sugar from a resale store on the corner of the table.

The only color on the table is the hint
of blue in this frosty snowflake candle.

At night, the black and white takes on a special glow.

I am joining Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch
for Tablescape Thursday.

Please visit our wonderful hostess!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Could We Talk A Little Bit About Paula?

     This morning I happened to see one more posting about how Paula Deen should be held accountable for "misleading" the public into eating food that could kill them. I have heard this said in various ways since it came out earlier this month that she has Type 2 Diabetes. This morning, the person who posted about it on my Facebook page linked a listing of Paula's 10 "deadliest recipes".

    I don't often use my blog to discuss what might be a controversial topic, but today I wanted to say what I was thinking and see how you all felt about it. I'm a Paula Deen fan. I admire a woman who was completely down on her luck and created her own business selling sandwiches from a wagon to help support her boys. I visited her first small restaurant in Savannah before she was a household name and she was right out there cleaning off tables and talking to the customers. I feel as if that even with all of her fame, she has stayed pretty humble and seems grateful for the life she has. When I heard she had diabetes, I felt badly for her...not angry.

     It seems to me that anyone who cares enough to prepare a Paula Deen recipe is smart enough to know it isn't health food. Anyone who can afford the ingredients, afford the magazine or afford cable television is probably intelligent enough to realize that if it has a pound of butter, 2 cups of cream and a few cups of cheese in it...it isn't good for you. I have never heard Paula suggest that you make her recipes 3 meals a day and eat nothing else. I've also never heard her claim to be a "healthy" cook.

     So, where does it stop if the media and the public are going to criticize her for causing others to have health issues or premature death? What about the other cooking shows? The Neeley's comes to mind...with their down home southern cooking. Would Julia Child have made the cut? I seem to remember a lot of butter in her recipes as well. What about our magazines, the Southern Living I got yesterday is full of rich, calorie laden foods.

     Isn't it really our responsibility to eat what is best for us? We all know that a diet of fruits, vegetables and lean meats is healthier than butter, sugar, cream and high fat foods. Don't we have to make the decision for ourselves to try to eat right most of the time and have a Paula Deen treat now and then? I think she only has to be accountable to herself and hopefully by sharing her story she may affect others in a positive way. I wish her well in overcoming this serious disease. I'm off my soap box now...I think I'll go make some macaroni and cheese!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Red, White and Valentine"s Day

     I'm a little late to the game today because I'm just starting to "spruce" things up around here after having a stark look after Christmas. I did want to participate in Marty's 100th Table Top Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life. Please take a moment to stop in and wish her a Happy 100th posting.

     I was thrilled to find white tulips at my local Walmart today. They are my favorite. I just plunked (that is a technical term) them in a white pitcher and I love the casual look.

     I don't really have Valentine's Day decorations, so I simply put some candy in both a new jar and antique candy jar to add  a hint of the holiday.

This figurine was an anniversary gift from my husband in December.

If you look closely, you can see Zoe in her
kennel watching every move I'm making!

     With our warmer than usual temperatures and today's sunshine, I'd really like to put out spring things all over the house...but, I'd just be kidding myself. Winter is going to show up...it is just a matter of when and how bad it will be!

Happy 100th Table Top Tuesday Marty!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Wild Weather Weekend-Small Project

Don't let those sweet smiles fool you!

     It was a very strange weekend in my part of the world. In fact, I don't really remember ever having such strange weather. We had our grandsons here for the weekend. We were supposed to pick them up late Friday afternoon about 30 miles from here, but after watching the weather reports...we met their mother at noon, thank goodness.

     I actually took this picture Sunday morning, just a reminder of what happened here on Friday night. When my husband got home from work just before 5:00 p.m. on Friday, there was a slight mist in the air. When he stepped out on our deck about 15 minutes later to take one of the dogs out...he almost fell it was so slick. Within a matter of minutes, our area was a sheet of ice. They say that we had more than 100 accidents and because I live where 2 interstates meet, many of those accidents involved semi-trucks. We can actually see the interstate in the distance from our home and traffic was stopped completely for around 7 hours. It was one huge parking lot, can you imagine? I understand that the truckers were letting people into their trucks to stay warm. Every road in and out of our town was blocked by an accident. We only left the house to pick up my son, which we would never have done if his kids hadn't been here. It was a nightmare. Saturday was still very icy and yesterday...we woke to heavy fog and black ice. The roads were clear when we returned the boys, but the fog was thick. Last night, we warmed up to 52 degrees, the fog was horrible and huge thunderstorms passed through. What is up with this weather??

     I only worked on one tiny little project last week. For many years I have had a datebook calendar on my desk. I walk past the calendar shops in the mall and while I may drool over the lighthouses, beach photos and florals...a datebook has always been more practical for me. Until I became puppy obsessed this year...

     Who could pass this up? The pictures are so cute and with a new puppy in the house, well I gave in to temptation. Of course I didn't think about having no where to put it when I got it home. I can't keep a calendar this size on my desk and since putting the stainless appliances in the kitchen, I'm just not into putting things on the front of the frig anymore. I had a wall in the kitchen with nothing on it, but I couldn't imagine just putting a nail in the wall and hanging the calendar, so I tried to think of some way to hang it where it would still be easy to write on, yet not look terribly tacky!

     I saw some small bulletin boards from Ballard Designs, for around $70. Well, that wasn't in my budget. I had a small bulletin board in my closet, so I pulled it out, gave it a quick coat of paint and added a few felt circles to "dress it up" a little bit. I knew it wasn't really going to show once the calendar was hanging. It isn't ideal, but I do get to see my puppy pictures...the felt circles add a finished look that I wouldn't have if I just stuck the calendar on the wall and my refrigerator still has nothing on the front of it. Sometimes you just have to make it work! Money spent...$0.

I am joining Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch
for Met Monday. Please visit our hostess!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Almost Famous Sugar Cookies-Very, very good.

     I have known about Cheryl's Cookies for a long time. I have never tried them. A few days before I left for Florida, a good friend was lucky enough to get to taste them and she  couldn't say enough good things about the flavor and texture of these cookies. The fact that they come individually wrapped is a bonus. I wanted to order them to take to Florida with me for the holiday, but I didn't have enough time...so I started searching for a recipe that might be similiar. I found a recipe titled "Cheryl and Co. Cookies" on Tastebook. Click here for the recipe. They also list a frosting recipe, but I wasn't crazy about the idea of vegetable oil in my frosting, so I used the following recipe for the frosting. The cookie recipe makes so many cookies that I ran out of frosting and still had about a dozen cookies leftover.

Buttercream Frosting

1 - (1 lb.) pkg. powdered sugar (approx. 3 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup - butter, softened
3 to 4 tablespoons - milk
1 teaspoon - vanilla

Combine in large bowl, with mixer at low speed, powdered sugar, butter, milk and vanilla. Beat at medium speed 1-2 minutes until creamy. If desired, add more milk until frosting is spreading consistency. Divide into bowls and add food coloring as desired.

Makes enough to fill and frost 2-layer cake, 13x9x2-inch sheet cake, or 24 cupcakes.

     I was a little shocked at the amount of butter, eggs and sugar for the recipe...but, it made lots of cookies and they were very good. The recipe says to roll out the dough and cut out the cookies. They would certainly look more like Cheryl's Cookies if you did that. I was lazy and simply rolled them into balls and pressed them down with a glass dipped in flour.

     My family said these were the best sugar cookies I've ever made. They are thick, soft and not overly sweet. I tend to go for the chocolate cookies on the plate, but even I was grabbing these. I still look forward to trying some of the authentic Cheryl's Cookies, but these were certainly a hit at my house and would be wonderful for Valentine's Day.

I am joining Michael @ Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday
Please stop in and say hello to our hostess!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gold, Crystal and Vintage Bling

     Most of the time when I set a table, it is a bit fun and funky. I do however, like to get a little formal now and then. My tablescape today was inspired by the table runner, which was a gift from my dad for Christmas. You will see that not only is it beautiful...it has lights inside of it, how cool is that? 

     The runner is gold and cream, a perfect match for my mother's china pattern. Her beautiful Castleton China Carlton pattern is one of my treasures. My grandmother had the same pattern, so there were enough place settings for my sister and I to both have a full set.

I pulled out the my gold Farberware flatware
and gold napkins to complete the theme.

     You may be noticing my "napkin rings". My mother-in-law's vintage brooches add a little touch of whimsy and sparkle to the table. I actually wear them all the time on my jean jackets and coats. The vintage necklaces were my grandmother's.

     The stemware is Waterford Crystal. The centerpiece is the matching Waterford ice bucket. These pieces were given to my husband for his 35th anniversary at his job last year.

     The crystal candlesticks are garage sale finds and the rose bowls are antique cut glass. I put a crystal votive in each one.

I love white flowers, they are so simple and elegant.

The table runner in the daytime is pretty...at night, it is wonderful!


     I did learn a valuable lesson with this tablescape. Zoe (the puppy) was very attracted to the tassel on the table runner. I caughter her just before she grabbed it, which would have pulled the Waterford ice bucket to the hardwood floor. I was very lucky to avoid that disaster.

I am joining Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch
for Tablescape Thursday.

I am also joining Kim @ Savvy Southern Style
for Wow Us Wednesdays

Please take time to visit our lovely hostesses.