Monday, December 28, 2009

Mantle Metamorphosis

It's been quite a while since I have participated in Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps On The Porch so I chose to share my fireplace mantle. My mantle changes with the seasons and holidays.

At Christmas I most often place my collection of Santa's on the mantle. This year I decided to place my Nativity on the mantle and we were able to enjoy it so much more.

This particular Nativity was made by my grandmother about 40 years ago. She owned a ceramic shop and painted this one for my mother. When my husband and I were young marrieds my mother asked my husband to rig something up so the angel would appear to be floating. He did this with a co-hanger and we have used it ever since. When my mother passed away 20 years ago my father gave this Nativity to me. It is one of my most cherished possessions.

A closer look at that angel that appears to be flying.

The Wise Men and their camels.

And the shepards.

This will remain up until after The Epiphany on Janruary 6th and we will enjoy it everyday. It is a real treasure to me.

Please take a look at other participants at Between Naps On The Porch

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Has Come and Gone

It has been several months since I have posted on my blog but I couldn't let the time go by without posting some of my Christmas photos.

I have a passion for setting a beautiful table but more importantly putting together flower arrangements is a great stress release for me. This year I set my Christmas dinner table and made my flower arrangement on Christmas Eve after I had prepped dinner. I was ready for the arrival of my family and guests.

To either side of the flower arrangement I used mercury glass votive candle holders.

The dining room is painted a cherry red and one would think that I would down play the red and I usually do but this year I used a gorgeous red damask tablecloth from William Sonoma and I loved the way it looked with all the red. This photo shows one of two salt and pepper cellars that I found at an antique show many years ago. I place one at each end of the table. They are early 1800's pieces. The flatware is hotel silver and the china is Spode Christmas Tree.

Behind the dining room table is my antique sideboard and I placed three glitzy red trees in different sizes on it with one of my Santa's from my collection of Santa's.

At each child's setting I used silver snowmen napkin rings. At all other place settings I used antique silver napkin rings that I have collected over the past few years.

At the end of the dining room is French doors and I hung on each one freeze dried boxwood wreaths. I will be able to use these boxwood wreaths throughout the year and changing the ribbons depending on the holiday if I wanted to use them. I thought they were a good purchase.

Christmas has come and gone but I was very pleased with my Christmas tablesetting this year.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween


My oversized Pumpkin will be loaded with treats for all the children who visit my home this evening.

Tomorrow I will pack up my Halloween decorations that I have enjoyed and bring out in their place some special Thanksgiving decorations. I don't do a lot of decorating for Halloween but have a few special things that I do enjoy. I do more of Fall decorating with Halloween interspersed around my home.

Each piece having their own special memory. This one handmade by a very dear friend.

Time does move on and these will be carefully packed up until next Halloween.

Enjoy those trick 'o treaters this evening.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tarragon Chicken

Today is Foodie Friday once again hosted by Designs by Gollum. Stop in at Designs by Gollum to see other participants who have shared some wonderful recipes.

Today I am sharing a recipe for Tarragon Chicken which is a recipe that comes from a book that I recently purchased, Slow Cooler: The Best Cookbook Ever. I had looked for a long time for a really good book for slow cookers and this one is in my opinion, exceptional. Also, not too long ago I purchased the All Clad slow cooker which is the one that has the insert that you can use on top of the stove to prep ingredients and then place it back into the slow cooker. I am extremely happy with this piece of equipment but needed some inspiration to use it more often. This book, Slow Cooler: The Best Cookbook Ever was a good purchase.

Tarragon Chicken

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 chicken breast halves, skin and bones removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 pound white button mushrooms, halved or quartered if large
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon, plus additional for garnish

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the chicken to the skillet and brown on all sides. Transfer the chicken to the insert of a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker.

Add the garlic, onion, mushrooms, and dried tarragon to the skillet and saute' until the onion is softened and the mushroom liquid has evaporated, 7 to 10 minutes. Deglaze the skillet with the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.

Transfer the contents of the skillet to the slow-cooker insert. Add the broth and mustard to the cooker and stir to combine. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 1/2 hours or on low for 4 to 5 hours.

Add cream, cornstarch, and two talbespoons fresh tarragon to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes on high or 30 minutes on low, until the sauce is thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the chicken garnished with the additional fresh tarragon.

Serves 6

My notes: I used Baby Portobello mushrooms just because I think they have better flavor. I do have fresh tarragon growing in my garden and the fresh tarragon is a MUST for this dish. It just gives it a freshness at the end that I think is needed. Most grocery stores do carry fresh tarragon though. I used an Italian white wine and I would not use a chardonnay in this dish. I think it would be over powering. I also whisked the cream and constarch together before adding to the slow cooker.

This is a French Bistro type of dish and one that I think is an excellent family meal or could very easily be prepared for a casual dinner party. I served it over Wild Rice with a side fo sauted spinach. The cream gravy is excellent.

I hope you have enjoyed my recipe for Tarragon Chicken and do visit Designs by Gollum for some very interesting recipes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Family Photos at the Farm

Today is Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer. You will find other participants at this weekly gathering of bloggers by clicking here.

I rarely post pictures of my family on my blog but today I thought I would throw caution to the wind. A few months ago we had some photos of our family in front of our sunflower field up at our farm in N GA that I thought I would share today. The sunflower field has since bloomed out and plowed under but it providing lots of food for the birds.

A group picture of the whole family.

Our oldest son, his wife and our twin grandsons.

Our middle son, his wife and two little girls.

The two little girls with their mommy.

Our daughter and her new husband as of March 28,2009.

And of course, I had to have a photo of my husband, myself and our fur babies, Miss Scarlet, the Cavelier and Huey, the beagle.

Our four grand children are the light of our lives.

Our family enjoys spending time at our farm in S GA. It is a great weekend getaway and we spend lots of time outdoors while there soaking up the fresh air of the country.

Take the time to go by and visit Susan's blog, A Southern Daydreamer. There are wonderful Outdoor Wednesday posts to enjoy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fall and Halloween Decorations

I went to my pantry this afternoon to prepare these wonderful Pumpkin Bars. A recipe that came form a message board friend several years ago and it has become a family favorite. Unfortunately, my stash of Pumpkin was gone so I am off tomorrow to the grocery to stock up on canned Pumpkin. I decided to share the recipe anyway (this is a very addictie recipe) and also share some of my Fall and Halloween decorations. You can see other participants of Foodie Friday hosted by Designs by Gollum by clicking here.

Pumpkin Bars

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temp.
2 cups canned pumpkin (one 15-oz. can)
4 eggs, room temp.
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. each cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 15 X 10 1/2 X 1 pan. Sift flour, baking soda, spices, and salt together; set aside. Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add pumpkin and eggs; beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Spread mixture into pan. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until cake springs back when touched or toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.

3 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
1 stick butter, room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. orange zest (optional)
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat together until smooth.

A few weeks ago I shared some of my Fall and Halloween decorations around my home. It was in a mosaic and I have since taken some more photos of my Fall and Halloween decorations that I would like to share. I don't do a lot of Halloween decorations but a few special pieces.

The kitchen always gets a little Fall decor especially since it is central to my home and I have quite a few ceramic pumpkins that I have collected over the years. This particular Pumpkin Cookie Jar has some Ginger Cookies in it. A receipt that I tried for the first time and one that was shared by a dear friend.

In the vase next to it is a bouquet of Mexican Sage which only blooms in our area in the Fall. There are some plants that only bloom in the Fall in N FL and this is one I dearly love with it's beautiful spikey purple blooms. In Fall arrangements it gives a striking hit of color with other typical yellow and orange flowers.

My backdoor entrance always has to have a seasonal decoration. After all, "back door guests are best." This one happens to be a reproduction of an old piece and is made of paper mache'. For Halloween night I will move this piece to my front entrance because it will house my trick o'treat candy for all the goblins and gouls who visit my house.

This is a very special piece to me. The first time I saw it was in one of Charles Faudree books and he showed the antique piece that he owns. It is a Black Forest carved vase but this one happens to be a reproduction of that piece. Charles Faudree is an internationlly known interior decorator from Tulsa, OK and decorates in the French Country style and I am a huge fan of his. I have all his books and constantly pour over them. It is sitting on an Antique Oak sideboard and the lamp is made by Waterford.

I only use it in the Fall and Winter but I think it makes quite a statement with my silk flowers in it.

This witch was a gift from a very talented and dear friend. She watches my every move while I am in the kitchen since she sits on top of some cabinets at the end of my kitchen. Everything on her was handmade even the hair which is made of heavy gauge wire. Whenever I bring her out I always think of my sweet friend who spent so much time making this for me. There is another one of my vast collection of pumpkins.

Our bar also gets a little Halloween decoration. This pair of lamps are also made by Waterford.

This is another one of my reproductions of an old piece made of paper mache'. I think it adds a little bit of whimsy.

Another of my pumpkin collection sitting atop an antique English Pub Table.

Even my kitchen cooktop gets a little Fall decor.

My front entrance has to have some seasonal decor as well. The entry light is an old gas piece that was made electric.

On the left is another of my reproduction paper mache' pieces and on the right my Fall clear glass pumpkins.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing my Fall and Halloween decorations as much as I have enjoyed sharing them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mosaic Monday

There is a small town just north of where I live that I dearly love to go to and most especially when I want to shop. For so many reasons but most of all it's a small town, they have maintained a wonderfully friendly atmosphere, and they have also preserved the beautiful architecture in their downtown area.

The town is Thomasville, GA and it has a lot of historical significance. So many years ago this was the last stop by train going south and many of the wealthy northerners bought up the plantations in the surrounding area. Many of which are still working plantations and these plantations have remained in the hands of several generations. They still come to the area when the weather turns so bitter cold during the winter months.

I took pictures of the downtown area of Thomasville to share with you in my mosaics.

They still have the tree lined brick streets and I love the fact that they have iron benches for those who get tired. The street lanterns are original but use to be gas and were made electric. The photo in the top right has a fabric store, a store for drapes and upholstry and one of my most favorite shops. The photo in the middle is a shop owned by two men whom I adore and last year they gave me a lovely Christmas present of a photo album because they said I was one of their best customers. Each and every time I am in their shop we have nice long chats. Their shop is a gift shop, clothing, candles, Lampe Berge' etc... The shop below is called The Gift shop and they don't take any credit cards and if you have forgotten your check book they tell you, "Don't worry about that honey, we'll just bill it to you." Can you just imagine that? Well, that was the first time I ever walked into the shop. In this day and time that is amazing. I have since developed a wonderful friendship with them.

I just love all the architecture and the photo in the middle is a kitchen shop called Relish. Needless to say this is one of my most favorite shops and I could spend hours there. It is so very different from any other kitchen shop I have ever been in. They also sell hard to find wines and serve lunch in the back of the shop. The shop owners sit and share their day with you. The last photo on the bottom left is of the old train station. The trains don't stop there anymore so it is now a fabulous Italian restaurant which so much history and ambiance. Thomasville, GA is a great place to visit and one I visit often. I hope you have enjoyed my little bit of nostalgia that I can still enjoy today.

I am joining Mary at Little Red House for Mosaic Monday. To see other interesting participants please click here. You can also enlarge my mosaics by clicking on to them.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Met Monday and Mosaic Monday

Today I am joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch who hosts Metamorphosis Monday and also joining Mary at Little Red House who hosts Mosaic Monday. You can see other inspiring participants of both of these blogs by clicking on to what is highlighted.

For each season of the year most often one can see changes in my home on my mantle over my Fireplace. Today I am sharing my Fall Metamorphosis of my mantle.

This was finessed for the summer with my topiaries on each end and my Vietri pheasant.

For Fall I leaned in the direction to a somewhat French theme with my Guinea Hens from France and my flower topiaries from France. I have finessed some faux magnolia garland with some straw pumpkins. The wreath is an orange raffia and I thought made a fabulous statement.

For Mosaic Monday I will share some other Fall decorations around my home with a few Halloween decorations mixed in. Even my kitchen gets a Fall look and I have several Halloween decorations that are reproductions of antique pieces that I purchased several years ago. They are made of paper mache'.

Thank you for visiting my blog and make sure you check out all the other participants at both of these blogs. I have found that I get so many creative ideas from all of the participants.