Tuesday, December 30, 2014

O Tannenbaum

Christmas is behind us and we are now looking forward to celebrating the New Year. Before I begin to take down my Christmas decorations I wanted to share some of them with you since I had not posted on my blog this month at all. I didn't do my usual all over the house decorating since I have been ill for several weeks. Some bug that everyone in our county seems to have but mine just wanted to linger on and on and on.

Anyway, I am now feeling better and am anxious to share a few of my Christmas pics. I suppose I should begin with our Christmas tree. As a child we always had colored lights on our tree and my husband did as well. I have threatened to do all white lights but I got a lot of negative comments and more importantly, our grand's just LOVE the old fashioned colored lights so we have always stayed with the old fashioned colored lights. Not really very cost effective but it makes my family happy.

This was taken Christmas morning and yes, we had two carriages with baby dolls. Actually there were three but the third one was for our youngest grand daughter and her baby doll was sitting on a Rocking Bunny with her name engraved on it. I dearly LOVE to give baby dolls to my grand girls.
Over the past 45 years we have collected many Christmas Tree ornaments, some of which we don't ever put on our tree anymore since we have been getting smaller trees. Instead we place our most treasured ornaments. This one, of course, is THE most special, a reminder of why we celebrate this birthday. It is an Italian piece and my most treasured ornament. I also have a long nail hanging on our tree to let us know how this magnificent story ended and continues.
So many of our ornaments were gifts from special friends such as the two below and when I take them out I am always reminded of the friend from which they came.
I have placed an ornament on our tree for each new grand child too.

Our twin grandsons but now they are almost 6 feet tall. My oh my where does the time go?

This one was added last year for our youngest, Baby Turner

I didn't take individuals of each one, there are seven now, but each time I added one for their first Christmas I bought the same ornament for their tree at home. For my daughters girls I have started them a collection of Christopher Radko ornaments.
There are always those special ornaments that are dear to your heart for some reason.
I have a dear niece who is a lobbyist in DC and every year for as long as I can remember she has been sending us "this years" White House ornament. Unfortunately they are scattered all around the tree and don't do them justice but I saw recently at a Christmas Tour of Homes where someone had taken all of their White House ornaments and placed them on a wreath. It showed them at their best spectacularly and next year that is exactly what I will be doing.

There is one on the left in this picture. We cherish all of those White House ornaments.

A Santa with a burgundy coat trimmed in fur tops our tree and he is a jolly looking fellow. This was one of my first Santa's that began my collection of Santa's that I will share tomorrow.
Thank you for stopping by and I do hope you will come again soon.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

YaYa Dinner Party

Tomorrow night I am hosting my dinner group at my house. Several years ago I put together this group of long time friends with many things in common. We do a dinner each month with the exception of summer months and December with just the women, I realized that even though we often met for lunch we always ate lunch and had to hurry away to bridge group or another meeting. We never got to just sit and talk without worrying about where we had to be after an hour lunch. So that was the premise of our dinner group and I think we all enjoy it and we can talk about anything we want without husband's over hearing. We call ourselves the YaYa's, of course we do. We do live in the South and it seemed to fit.

Tomorrow night I chose to do a New Orleans themed menu:

Cajun Meatballs
Sun Dried Tomato Hummus
served with Pat O'Brian's Hurricanes
New Orleans Seafood Gumbo served over Rice
Spinach Salad with an Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette
served with a French Pinot Noir
New Orleans Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce
served with coffee/champagne
I set my table yesterday, a New Orleans themed dinner menu but it's still Fall.
I fell in love with these pumpkin salad plates from William Sonoma, a must have for me and I knew they would go well with my Fall Jacquard table cloth. My center piece is what I usually place on my dining room table throughout the Fall, an antique dough bowl filled with pumpkins and gourds.
The napkin rings with their oak leaves and acorns were a purchase many years ago from my most favorite place to shop, Boxwood in Atlanta, GA. I know I can always see the most unusual "finds" at Boxwood.
Not only did I fall for the Pumpkin salad plates but had to have the Pumpkin Salad bowl as well. The serving spoons have birds and acorns on them.
And of course, wee little pumpkin salt and peppers placed at each end of the table.
I'm looking forward to hosting my dinner group tomorrow evening. It should be a fun evening with good friends and fellowship.
I am sharing this post with Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. To enjoy other seasonal tablescapes click HERE.
Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Provencal Vegetable Soup

I prepared this recipe a few days ago and it quite simply is delicious. The recipe appears in my most often used book by Dorie Greenspan, Around My French Table.

The recipe is very different from most vegetable soups. Most often I will make my own vegetable soup and always with a tomato base and usually I add beef. With this recipe you really taste the vegetables using the freshest ingredients and I loved the use of so many fresh herbs from my garden. This would not be the time to use frozen or canned veggies with the exception of the cannellini beans.

It smelled heavenly as it cooked.
Provencal Vegetable Soup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
6 cups vegetable broth, chicken broth, or water
3 parsley sprigs
2 thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
2 slender carrots, trimmed, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch half-moons
1 small potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup small pasta (elbow, fusilli, or mini penne)
1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1 cup rinsed canned chickpeas or cannellini beans (or 1/2 cup dried beans soaked in water for 1 hour)
1 medium zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch half-moons
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes, or a handful of cherry tomatoes, cut into cubes (no need to peel or seed)
1 ear fresh corn, husked and kernels sliced off
Basil Pesto, to finish
Extra-virgin olive oil, to finish
12 fresh basil leaves, torn or cut into shreds
Grated or shaved Parmesan, for serving
Pour the olive oil into a large casserole- a stockpot or a Dutch oven that holds at least 5 quarts-and warm it over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, season fairly generously with salt (about 3/4 teaspoon), and white pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon), lower the heat, and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the broth or water and herbs and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in the carrots and potato and cook for 10 minutes. Add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes, then stir in the beans (green and canned) and zucchini and cook for 10 minutes more. (This is not a soup in which any of the vegetables should be crunchy.) Finally, add the tomatoes and corn kernels and cook for 3 minutes.
Finish the soup with some pesto, drizzle with a little olive oil, and scatter the basil over the top. Top with Parmesan, or pass the cheese at the table.
Cutting up all the vegetables was a little time consuming but well worth the effort. I used chicken stock, canned cannellini beans, and cherry tomatoes. All the fresh herbs I tied in a little bundle with kitchen twine. Most of the herbs just melded into the soup but it was easier finding the stems and bay leaf.
This now will be my go to recipe for a very hearty Vegetable Soup, it is excellent.
This year I failed to share on my blog some of my Halloween decorations. I don't have too many since I do more of a Fall decorating but the past couple of years I have collected some really special Halloween decorations. I will share them now.
Part of a larger Lizzie High collection. My grand daughters just love these.
Welcoming my back door friends.
To welcome my trick o treater's and the container that holds my treats.
 A couple of ghouls to terrorize in the dining room.


And my friendly little kitchen witch.
I hope you will try this outstanding soup, Provencal Vegetable Soup. It would make a good dinner for Halloween evening.
It's Friday and I am sharing this post at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael Lee at Rattlebridge Farm. To see other amazing recipes shared click HERE.
Thank you so much for dropping by my blog and please do come again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Continuing with Fall decorating

I am slowly adding Fall decorations, two weeks ago I shared my new Fall "WELCOME" sign and I had been waiting on my new wreath that my daughter was making for me. I was thrilled with the results.

My daughter and I had gone to our local Hobby Lobby and I  bought what she needed to put my  Fall wreath together for me. I think she is very talented and just yesterday she got six requests to make similar wreaths after showing some friends a picture of my wreath hanging on my front door. I was more than a little pleased with this wreath she had made for me.

Tomorrow I will make a stop at my favorite nursery to pick up some mums for my front steps and I will have completed my Fall decorating for my front porch. I continue to slowly spruce up inside with Fall décor and will share soon.

We are now beginning to enjoy some cooler temperatures in our area of North Florida so it is beginning to feel more like Fall here as well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fall Decorating

Here in our area of Florida it is still soooooooo HOT and HUMID . We probably won't get much relief for a while yet but after Labor Day I can't help but add some Fall décor even though it doesn't feel much like Fall . Fall is my most favorite time of the year . Not only do I enjoy the warm colors of Fall but it is also a time of year when I  do most of my planting in the garden which is why it is my most favorite time of the year , bulbs , snapdragons , pansies , etc .

A few weeks ago my daughter and I were in Hobby Lobby and they had just put out some Fall decorations . We came upon a painted tin pumpkin that could be either hung or sat on a table since it had a tin stand on the back . I loved the colors of this piece and wanted to hang it by my front door . My daughter who is also an artist told me she would paint "WELCOME" on it for me . I have absolutely no talent in that area .

This is my front entrance , the etched center glass piece was in our original door . My husband had given it to me for an anniversary gift many years ago before we moved into our house that we were building at the time . Not too long ago we decided to have a new door and sidelights made and the carpenter suggested that he remove the etched glass piece and place it in the new door . Of course, I was in agreement since it had been a gift to me from my husband . Not only did it have sentimental value but the carpenter told me that they are just not made like this anymore . When we had this door made we had it made out of solid mahogany and the etched piece I thought was perfect . I always use iron door mats at each exterior entrance . I think it adds to that older "look" I am always after or maybe I should say an overall look of a sense of history . After 34 years our home definitely has a history now .
And here is the close up of my new "WELCOME" sign for Fall .  I thought it was adorable and even better that my daughter had a hand in it .
I am slowly adding Fall décor but this is the first piece displayed . All of which will remain up through Thanksgiving until I begin decorating for Christmas . Have you begun to change out Summer décor to Fall ?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Dinner Table

I have spent many months not being able to blog , actually not being able to post my photos . One of the more interesting aspects of blogging but as of yesterday the problem was resolved .  An easy "fix" but I continued to try to fix it myself . The more I tried the more frustrated I got and I not only had given up on blogging but also on photography . Yes , I had become very frustrated . Yesterday my husband had a new computer placed in his at home office so the tech people who does all of his work at his office came to our home to install his new computer . While the tech guy was here I told him , "Don't get away without looking at my computer" . It took him all of two minutes . Why oh why didn't I have him look at it before this .  
Welllllllll, I am just happy to be able to blog again.  For my first blogging post in several months I am going to join Susan's  blogging party , Tabletop Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch .

In our area of North Florida it is so very hot, triple digits often , and humid .  We are unable to eat al-fresco right now because of our intense summer heat . However , my favorite place to serve dinner is on my screened porch but that will have to wait until we get cooler temperatures , hopefully soon .

A Summer Dining Table 

During the summer I use more blue and white in decorating and also for table settings . For a casual dinner it is often in our breakfast room/reading room. Blues have such a cool to the eye quality .

A casual area of your home requires a casual table setting . Blue woven placemats , hotel silver , and French napkins .

The salad plates came from Nell Hills in Atchison, Kansas, some have birds on them while others have bumble bees in black and white . Nell Hills is owned by Mary Carol Garrity . She is an interior decorator and writer of numerous books which I have all of them . A dear friend who lives in Kansas made me  aware of Mary Carol and I have been a fan ever since . The white dinner plate is Vilroy & Boch , my everyday pattern and my favorite since I can use them with most any theme or color combination .
Carrying out the theme of bugs and birds , my napkin rings are iron and painted with a stressed look to make them look old . They are a favorite of mine and the napkins are French .
The little bird salt and pepper shakers may also have come from Nell Hills . I've had them so long I can't remember but they are a nice addition to that botanical theme . I love the little iron basket carrier .

The stemware I bought many years ago while vacationing near Apalachicola, FL . The shop has since closed . It is so sad that so many wonderful little gift shops have had to close in our economy situation . This is a little shop I have missed every time I visit Apalachicola .

My centerpiece was put together with hydrangeas from my garden . These are called Limelight's and they are a late bloomer . I love the almost green ones . When they are first blooming they are white but as they age turn this lovely lime green . I love the contrast and they are similar in shape to an Oakleaf hydrangea but are longer lasting .

A Summer Dinner Table, a simple and casual dinner for four .

To see other participants of Tablescape Thursday you can click HERE . Thank you for visiting my blog .