Wednesday, January 20, 2010

YaYa Dinner Club

Last Thursday I hosted my first YaYa Dinner Club. I had read about a group of women in Birmingham, AL who have been getting together since college and have now had their club going for twenty years. Welllllll, I decided that there was no time like the present and we aren't getting any younger. So I checked with ten of my closest and dearest friends and they loved the idea.

I chose to be the first hostess and decided upon an Italian themed dinner and table setting. To seat that many people I chose to have it in my dining room. This may seem a more formal spot to have a most informal dinner but it worked for me.

I used my Vietri Contrada dinner plates, Vietri Foglia salad plates, the wine glasses are a recent purchase with pinecones etched on them (I don't even know who makes them???) and next to the wine is just a plain clear glass Lenox pattern. I used my hotel silver and to the left of the dinner plates are small square plates made by Cassafina that I used for dipping oil with some fresh herbs from the garden.

Since the wine glass had the etched pinecones, I also used my brass acorn napkin rings. The tablecloth and napkins are Vintage Jacquard from William Sonoma in a natural color.

When having a dinner party I always use fresh flowers and I do my own arrangements. Doing my arrangements is a stress relief for me.

I was unable to find any kind of sunflowers at this time of year so I chose to use the bright colors of Italy. My candle holders were a purchase from one of my favorite shopping spots, Boxwoods in Atlanta. I thought they had a vintage look to them and I love filling them with Green Split Peas for a little added color.

On the sideboard is the dessert that I had made, Giadia's Chocolate Amaretti Cake. This was an amazing dessert, easy to put together and it was delicious with a touch of orange zest. Chocolate and orange is a wonderful combination. I didn't get a close up of it but I used a large garden cloche to cover the cake stand and it made for a pretty presentation.

One of my most loved possessions is my Swarosvski Crystal Chandelier and it's on a dimmer. With red walls the crystals bounce off the red and makes for a beautiful space. In the corner of the dining room is a handpainted Vietri piece sitting on a mahogany fern stand.

A good time was had by all but the one thing that was most remembered was the dessert. I should mention that I did some freshly whipped cream laced with a little Amaretto. A little dollop of that on each slice and it put this dessert over the top.

Chocolate Amaretti Cake
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup baby amaretti cookies (about 2 ounces)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
4 large eggs
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for sifting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9-inch springform pan the nonstick spray. Refrigerate. Microwave the chocolate until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds, for about 1 minute.

Combine the almonds and cookies in processor. Pulse until the almonds and cookies are finely ground. Transfer the nut mixture to a medium bowl. Add the butter and sugar to the processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Add the grated orange peel and pulse briefly, until incorporated. Add the eggs 1 at a time. Blend until the eggs are incorporated. Clean the sides of the mixing bowl and blend again. Add the nut mixture and melted chocolate. Pulse until blended. Clean the sides of the bowl. Blend again.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the center puffs and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes.

Transfer the cake to a platter. Sift the cocoa powder over and serve.

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One of my favorite places to shop

It is once again time for Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer. I haven't joined in her party in a long time but thought I would today.

About three weeks before Christmas my husband and I made a trip to Atlanta. I enjoyed the trip and timing was perfect to do a little Christmas shopping in the big city while he was there on business. One of my most favorite places to shop is Boxwoods in Atlanta. The owners of this fabulous shop have been written up in several magazines, Veranda and Southern Accent or I should say their homes have. I never miss an opportunity to shop at Boxwoods while in Atlanta.

It is a combination of antique shop, gift shop, garden shop and flower shop. It is an amazing little shop and they do a great business.

This is to the left of the picture above and the main entrance. I think the landscaping is beautiful and they also do landscaping as part of their business. Their landscape architect has been written up in many magazines as well and often on the premises. He is a wealth of information.

This is a photo I took inside the building going into the greenhouse. As an avid orchid grower I LOVE this room. Not one of my better photos but you get the picture.

Another shot of the side of the building. Apparently this area used to be a neighborhood and like other areas it was changed into a place of business. It has a charm and character all it's own in this beautiful old home and neighborhood. I LOVE this place to shop.

If you are ever in Atlanta take the time to visit Boxwoods. You won't be disappointed. I think the last time I was there I brought home 12 stems of wine glasses that had some gorgeous etchings on them.

Go by and visit Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for other participants of Outdoor Wednesday by clicking here.

Thank you for visiting my blog and have a wonderful Wednesday.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Special Vignette

Barb at Grits and Glamour is hosting her 2nd Tabletop Tuesday. I didn't participate in the first one but checked out all the wonderful participants. So many ideas from which to draw. I am participating for the first time and I hope you like what I have chosen to share.

This is a special vignette to me, it's a little antique table that sits by a back door going out to my back garden area and patio. The large framed piece above the table was done by a French street artist of my duaghter when she went to France the summer before her senior year in high school. It has always been so very special to me. The pillows underneath are handy on days when I can sit out on the patio to enjoy my feathered friends.

Sitting on this table is a lamp that I bought about a year ago that I thought had so much character. I loved the parrots lined up on this lamp and the colors went so well in my house since I use those colors throughout my house. It is definitely a conversation piece but also a reminder for me to feed the birds. I also keep my birding binoculars just behind the lamp.

I recently found this little French tin pot with a sunflower in it and I have come to love these type of pieces. The piece seemed to go well with everything.

To the left of my daughters portrait is a French botanical print of a sunflower. I was gifted with this piece by a most special friend after she saw the field of sunflowers that my husband planted for me at our farm in S GA. I placed it here because when I walk out this door as I do every day often I always think of my dear kindred spirit. She is a very special lady and one who knows me very well.

This has become a special spot in our home.

Take some time to go by Barbs wonderful blog to see other creative participants in Tabletop Tuesday. You can do this by clicking here.

Thank you for visiting my blog and enjoy your Tuesday.

Sharing a Family Mosaic

Today I am joining Mary at Little Red House for her Mosaic Monday. Thank you Mary for hosting this party. There are so many talented photographers and imaginitive mosaics. Click here to see what I mean.

Today I am sharing some photos in a mosaic of my family. My daughter was married last March and we got some wonderful family photos. My two grown sons, daughter, daughter in law who was the maid of honor, the twin grandsons, one of my grand daughters and of course the guy who made it all possible, my husband.

Some special moments before the ceremony. You can enlarge the moasic by clicking on to it.

Thank you for visiting my blog and make sure you take a trip in blogland to see other creative mosaics.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Intimate Dinner for Two

I am joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. I have once again set a table for two. Come and join me if you would.

I found this French tablecloth at a local gift shop before Christmas. I loved it but with my colors in my house and I do love red, felt I would use it throughout the year and not just at Christmas. It's design is of red grapes with grape leaves.

I have again used the black trays from Nell Hills in Atchison, KS with my white Villroy & Boch dinner plates with my Hotel Silver from Horchow.

The napkins match the tablecloth and I have used these brass acorn napkin rings that I found in an antique shop in Blowing Rock, NC many years ago.

I grow many different varities of orchids and when they are in bloom I love using them as a centerpiece. My fluffy rooster seemed to just go right along with everything else on the table.

The stemware is from WS HOME that I bought some time ago and the bread board is one I bought from a dear friend who works in a kitchen shop in MS. She had posted on a message board some pics of her shop and I loved this bread board. She was kind enough to send it ASAP and I use it often.

Click here to see other inspirational table settings and you can also click on to my photos to enlarge them. Thank you for visiting my blog.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Looking back at 2009

Today I am joining Mary at Little Red House for Mosaic Monday. It has been a while since I have joined in but thought I would share some Mosaics that I put together over the past year of special things that took place in our lives in 2009.

Our kitchen remodel was completed. What an ordeal but worth every bit of aggravation. I have enjoyed my new kitchen so much.

Our daughter was married in March at a plantation that is on the National Register, Pebble Hill Plantation.

It was a beautiful wedding and a special highlight in terms of family memories.

My husband and I vacationed after the wedding just south of us at St. Theresa Beach, FL and enjoyed some beautiful sunsets and much needed down time after all the parties and planning for the wedding.

We also made a trip to the mountains of NC.

In June my husband planted a field of Sunflowers at our farm in N GA and we took the opportunity to take some family photos that we used for our Christmas card this past Christmas. I enjoyed this field so much since I could sit on the rocking chair front porch with the sunflower field as my view as I worked away on my needlepoint. It just doesn't get any better than that.

This was our family photo that I used for our Christmas card.

2009 was a good year. We have our health and each other and will continue to make lovely memories in the coming year, 2010. You can see other participants of Mosaic Monday by clicking here. You can also enlarge my photos by clicking on to them as well.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside

It is so cold throughout most of the country so today I will share a recipe for White Bean Soup that I made recently. I love a good bean soup and one with lots of flavor. I happen to see this recipe in the most recent catalog of William Sonoma. I must say that I thought it to be an excellent Bean Soup and the best part is that it is so quick and easy.

Today I am joining Foodie Friday hosted by Designs by Gollum.

I often find that many of the recipes in WS's catalogs are very good.

This soup went together so easily and it was very quick too. There are several ingredients that make it a very flavorful soup.

It was a great dinner served with some crusty bread on a cold winter evening.

To put it over the top I drizzled a little Black Truffle Oil on my soup. My DH doesn't care for Black Truffle Oil so I drizzled some really good Olive Oil on his with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top.

White Bean Soup

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped Pancetta
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 each carrot and celery stalk, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans (each 15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained
5 cups chicken broth
3/4 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In 3 1/2-qt. Dutch oven over medium heat, warm 2 Tbs. oil. Cook pancetta 5 minutes. Add onion, carrot and celery; cook 8 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Add beans, broth and thyme; simmer over low heat 10 minutes. Off heat puree with immersion blender until smooth. Stir in cheese, salt and black pepper.

Serves 6

Another Note: I also added about a tsp. of Poulet Demi-Glace that I get from WS for a little added flavor. I thought this soup to be excellent.

To see other fabulous recipes of other participants, stop by Designs by Gollum by clicking here. Enjoy

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chrismtas Morning Breakfast for Two

Today I am joining Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. It has been a long time since I have joined in on this party. Actually, I haven't kept up with my blogging in several months but hopefully will get back into it.

I am sharing my intimate Christmas Morning Breakfast for two today.

We did a kitchen remodel last year and moved our breakfast room table into our family room which is temporary. This room will eventually become "THE" Breakfast Room as soon as we get back to our planned addition. At the moment it is positioned at one end of the room and it is right off from the kitchen.

As we get older we are finding that we need a little cushion for our backs. I have a love for needlepoint and find it very relaxing to make pillows.

The table is a 1920's mahogany table that has an interesting leaf. It actually folds into the table. The flame stitch fabric on the chairs is one that I find I can use in any room of my house. I have used these colors throughout my house to one degree or another. The salt and pepper are Fitz and Floyd.

The salad plates are from Nell Hills as are the black trays. I often use these black trays instead of a place mat. The silverware is my hotel silver from Horchow.

The napkin rings are a find of many years ago. They are brass Trees and I use them often during the holidays.

I always love adding a little glitz to my holiday decorations and the Breakfast Room table needed it's "glitz".

To see other table setting inspiration click here. Thank you Susan for allowing us the opportunity to share all the wonderful ideas from across blog land.

Enjoy the remainder of your day and stay warm.