Friday, April 29, 2011

Add A Bit of Green to Your Plate and a Winner!

     This is so simple that it hardly qualifies as a recipe. My kids always loved vegetables and this is one of the ways I prepared brocoli for the family, before we started roasting most of our vegetables.

     All you need is fresh brocoli, vegetable oil, water, a pinch of salt and pepper and about a tablespoon of sugar.

     Wash and cut the brocoli into bite size pieces. Heat the oil in a skillet until a drop of water sizzles. Add brocoli and stir quickly for just long enough for it to turn bright green. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, 1/4 cup of water and a tablespoon of sugar. Stir, cover and cook about 1 more minute. The brocoli should still be bright green and tender while still slightly crisp.

     I am joining Michael @ Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dessert for Two

     As I prepare to post my tablescape, I am watching the devastation in Alabama on the television. In December, we stayed at a resort between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa on our way home from Florida. It is a beautiful part of the country with some of the nicest people you will ever meet. It seems a bit frivolous to me to be posting about a “tea party” when so many have lost their lives, their homes and their communities. My heart goes out to those affected and to our blog friends that live in the areas that were hit by the storms. Living in Illinois, tornadoes are something we have all seen. I have never seen anything like the images I am seeing this morning. My prayers are with them.

     Years ago I bought this little folding table at a Cracker Barrel porch sale. It is now in my "garage sale" pile that I'm accumulating, but I decided to use it for a tablescape before it goes to a new home.

     I used my wedding Fostoria Buttercup dessert plates so the pattern of the table would show through. Our every day stainless spoons were just fine for the two of us.

The teacups are are English bone china.

A crystal cream and sugar with a little
teapot spoon compliment the table.

I used a simple, white stoneware teapot.

A round piece of vintage linen is a perfect
place to sit the teapot, vase and cream and sugar.

A closer look at the painted tabletop.

By candlelight you can see that dessert was added to the table.
The pudding was still warm, so the whipping cream was melting fast!

I am joining Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch for
Tablescape Thursday. Please take time to visit
our wonderful hostess!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

You know that field behind my house that
 should show the beginnings of something that looks like this?

     This was my view yesterday, before the last round of heavy rains came through in the night. Not exactly the beach, is it? Just walking out into my yard was like walking on a wet sponge. My husband and all the neighbors actually were mowing last night. They are very picky about their yards in our neighborhood and when one person mows, they all mow. We had a brief couple hours of sunshine late yesterday afternoon and the mowers were going crazy. My husband said he had never attempted to mow anything so wet, but since more rain is on the way...he took the only chance he though he had. We are very lucky that we have no flooding in our neighborhood...just a lot of ugly! The flowers just don't want to bloom without sunshine!

I'm joining Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beach Dreaming

     I packed away all of the bunnies and eggs yesterday and decided to try to bring a little sunshine to my house. We seem to be in the midst of a monsoon season in Illinois. We had another 3 inches of rain just last night and it has been coming down for a week with several more inches predicted. In the summer I like to put away the "warm and cozy" and bring in the "light and airy" look. For me, that has to include shells, palm trees and the colors of the sea. 

     My new picture frame arrived yesterday. Some of you may recognize it as a piece of Driftshell Artwork from our friend Rhonda @ Shellbelle's Tiki Hut. I'm sure Rhonda is thinking "it is supposed to sit the other way"! I actually turned the frame so that I could use a special picture in it. It was taken last spring. It was the first time all four of us had been in Florida together in 5 years. We had flown my son down to see my mom one last time and we took a day and drove over to see my daughter at Disney. Through the magic of Disney my daughter is holding Tinkerbell in her hand and that is what we are "looking" at. We all look a little hot and frumpy, but I still love the picture.

     I wanted to share the detail of Rhonda's beautiful frame. She collects the shells on the beaches of Florida and creates amazing frames, mirrors, vases and candle holders. Her Driftshell hearts are stunning. Please visit her etsy store and take a look.

I am joining Marty @ A Stroll Thru Life for Table Top Tuesday
Kim @ Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesdays
Kathleen @ Faded Charm for White Wednesday

Monday, April 25, 2011

Free Music Giveaway to Start Your Week

     I love music, but I'm picky about what I listen to. I tend to turn the radio to Top 40, love the classic rock that I grew up with and like to toss a little country and Christian music into the mix. I'm lucky enough to be asked at times to review CD's. I don't always say yes. For example, I just turned down the new Yanni album, he's talented but not my style at all.

     When I was contacted several weeks ago by Sneak Attack Media and asked if I would be interested in reviewing one of their artists, He Is We, the first thing I did was listen to the music link they made available to me. I liked it and I wanted to hear more. Their current CD, My Forever, arrived recently and I'm really enjoying it.

     He Is We’s story is the sort of tale that should begin with “Once upon a time…” In the summer of 2008, Rachel Taylor and Trevor Kelly went to work at Ted Brown Music Tacoma, Washington. Both felt like outcasts and while the other employees sold flutes and guitars, Rachel and Trevor became fast friends, confiding in each other and realizing they both were musically inclined. Their first collaboration was a track called “Such a Beautiful Sound,” written at a friend’s house,” and the transition from music store co-workers to band mates was a natural next step. Their first songs were posted online and quickly gained a fan following. 

     They signed with Universal Motown Records and released their debut album My Forever in 2010. It hit number 6 on Billboard's Heatseekers Album Charts. The music is what I would consider "pop" with a catchy beat and wonderful harmonies. This is one of those albums that has you dancing around the house as it plays (that is always a real plus for me). With songs with titles like Forever and Ever, Blame It On The Rain and my favorite All About is a happy album. You can play this with kids in the room, which is rare these days!

     You don't have to take my word for it. You can watch the video for Happily Ever After by clicking here. You can also order the album on iTunes.


     Sneak Attack Media has graciously offered to send one of my readers a copy of My Forever. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and let me know you are interested. The giveaway will run until Thursday, April 28th at midnight ET. Good Luck!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Teeny Takes Over My Kitchen

"All I ever wanted in life was true love, a set of copper cookware,
and the perfect recipe for red velvet cake" 

Teeny Templeton

     Teeny Templeton magically appeared in our home this week when the UPS man brought me a copy of Michael Lee West's latest book, Gone With A Handsomer Man. Thank you so much Michael! I've just started reading the book, but I already know that Teeny and I will get along just fine. She lives in Charleston, of my favorite cities. She also picked out an apple walnut salad and a wedge of brie when planning a summer evenig meal...I would chose the same things. Imagine my surprise when I found that Teeny had slipped into my kitchen, raided my recipe box and tried out my recipe for red velvet cake. Considering it is Easter week, she opted for cupcakes all decked out for the holiday. I wonder if she thinks it is the "perfect recipe"! 


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup milk with 1 T. white vinegar added and allowed to sit a few minutes
2 eggs
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
(Teeny made 18 larger cupcakes)

     In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

     In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.

     Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined. Pour batter into the cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2-8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Beat together with mixer until creamy. Chill until ready to use. Remove from refrigerator a little while before frosting and allow to soften a little bit.

This makes enough frosting for the cupcakes with enough leftover to ice a 9x13 cake as well.

     Many of us know Michael from her blog Designs by Gollum and our weekly Foodie Friday parties. She is also the author of six novels, including Crazy Ladies, Mad Girls in Love, American Pie, and She Flew the Coop, as well as a food memoir, Consuming Passions. She lives with her husband on a farm in Lebanon, Tennessee, with three bratty Yorkshire terriers, a Chinese crested, assorted donkeys, chickens, sheep, and African Pygmy goats. Her faithful dog Zap was the inspiration of a character in Mermaids in the Basement.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Memories

    The star of our Easter table this year is the centerpiece. This holiday is bittersweet at our house. Last Easter I was in Florida having a steak from Outback Steakhouse, in styrofoam, on the patio at the rehab center with my parents. We knew at that point that my mom had cancer, but she was happily eating her meal and looking forward to going home and starting chemo. A few weeks later she was gone. My mother-in-law was having Easter with my husband's sister and her family here in Illinois. The flowers are from a larger bouquet that we had at the memorial service for my mother-in-law on Monday. When I look at the beauty in the flowers, I will remember the beautiful women who are still very much with us in spirit this year.

     I made my arrangement in the vintage blue vase that some of you may remember from other tablescapes. It is one of a pair, my sister and I each have one. They were a wedding gift to our parents in the 40's. I loved the soft blue with the pale blue stemware and the pastels in the egg shaped placemats.

     The table is casual this year. I have it set for 6, but there will only be 3 of us. My daughter is coming home for Mother's Day this year and working on Easter. I haven't decided if I will cook, or if we will go out to eat. Cooking for 3 isn't all that fun.


     The dinner plates I've had for years. They are Crate and Barrel. The petal shaped salad plates are Walmart...plastic.

     Pastel plaid napkins add to the softness of the table and are a resting place for Wm Rogers and Son silverplate flatware that I've used on many tables.

     I filled a Lenox compote and a silver one with eggs in shades of blue-green. My moss rabbit seems to be trying to get to the huge foil wrapped eggs.

     Vintage Easter postcards are a conversation piece on the table.

     Candlelight brings a soft glow to the table.



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

     Please take time to visit her this week.
I'm certain the tables will be beautiful.