Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Decor 2013

Our Christmas was beautiful and busy!  We celebrated Wonderful Hubby's extended family at my mother-in-law's home Christmas Eve where Santa stopped by for awhile. My extended family came to our home Christmas Day.  Prior to that, there were multiple holiday parties for organizations we're in, as well as choir practices, shopping and lots of baking!  I'm just now able to sit down to share some of our holiday decorations.  I want to thank you all for your great ideas!  I'm truly inspired each time I read your posts!

 The Mantel

I really like a natural winter look.  The hope is to be able to leave some of these things up through January! 

I just love these pheasants!  Both they and the lantern are from All About Home, a local home décor store.  I believe the tray is from Target.

This Jim Shore nativity set sits on our dining room hutch.
This nativity is nestled in a lantern with a little snow and a few trees.  A candle in the back helps illuminate the scene.
I shared about these vintage ornaments in the Coca-Cola Crates in a previous post.  You can see it HERE.  I have two and just love displaying them each year!  Wonderful Hubby and I have great memories looking through antique shops trying to find the right crates for this project. 
I got this little village set at the Dollar Tree a few years ago.  There are about 20 pieces in all.  It sits atop the dining room hutch.

 This vignette sits atop the Hoosier cabinet in our kitchen.  I really liked the look of the lantern from the fall and decided to see if I could change it up just a bit to make a more wintery scene.  I was pleased with the look that just a few changes made.
When the kids were very small, I purchased this little set from Hallmark.  It seemed to fit our family perfectly, at the time.  I enjoy getting it out each year.  It makes me smile to remember how small our children were when I got it and see how much they've grown!
This vignette includes some vintage photos from our family.  The gentleman is my paternal grandfather.  He passed away before my parents were married and I never knew him.  He was a handsome man, wasn't he? 
The young lady is my mother's first cousin, Adrian. 
Mom told me lots of stories about the fun they had growing up together.  The other photo is of some extended family members who moved to Canada. 
The photo holders are from All About Home, in Troy, MO.
 It's hard to believe the Christmas season has come and gone! 
What fun we've had, what great memories we've made! 
We wish each of you a Happy 2014!!

Sharing at these great parties: 
 Seasonal Sundays hosted by The Tablescaper
 Metamorphosis Monday hosted by Susan at BNOT

Sunday, December 8, 2013

New Use for an Old Crate

I have a thing for ornaments!  New, old, large, tiny, elaborate, simple.  I LOVE ornaments!!  I'll post more on my favorites later this week but now I'd like to share an idea I saw on television several years ago. 

They demonstrated how to display vintage ornaments in old Coca-Cola crates.  When I shared this idea with Wonderful Hubby, he said he could help with the 'alterations.'  We have two built-in cabinets around our fireplace and we thought they would look nice on top with our other vintage pieces.   The hunt for the perfect crates was on!
We had a lot of fun tramping through antique and resale shops that fall looking for just the right crates.  (Memories help make these pieces more special!!) 
After finding two crates that fit the bill, WH got to work repairing one and adding the eye hooks in each little cubby.  When he finished, I found enough small ornaments that would fit well in the holes and secured each of them in their places.
We love how they turned out!  Some of these ornaments are from our childhood homes but most we've found at antique stores on weekend getaways.
One of the best things about these little crates is how easy after-season storage is!  Since the ornaments are SECURELY fastened to the eye hooks, all we have to do is lay the crate down and each ornament swings inside its cubby! 
I don't have to take each one out and wrap it up!  I stack the two crates on top of each other then place them inside a large plastic bag to keep off the dust. 
Great look, simple display and easy storage!!  How great is that?!
I'm linking up to these parties to see what other ideas you all have for decorating with vintage finds ..

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas Dollar Store Finds

I love shopping at the new Dollar General Store in our small town.  There are always new surprises there and when I read Shannon at Fox Hollow Cottage and Debbie from Debbiedoo's were hosting another challenge, I knew I'd shop there first for a frugal setting.  There are Dollar Tree stores in nearby towns, too, but I thought I'd give my Dollar General first crack.

Several weeks ago I spied these plates and mugs and thought they might make a nice modern winter setting.  Since the plates were rather small and I already have several sets of Christmas / winter dishes, I passed them up.  After reading about the Dollar Tree Christmas Challenge, an idea started to form.  Back to the store I went and purchased these two plates, the mugs and glasses, a small bottle brush tree, holiday bling and some mittens.  I had already bought these placemats on sale after the holidays last year. 

Since the plates are luncheon size, I thought I'd use them at the kitchen island. 


I thought the mittens were a fun way to display the flatware.  I used green napkins I already had and stuck them in the mugs.  The little village vignette was made from Dollar Tree houses.
They started this way.
And after spray painting them white and adding white glitter here and there, they ended up this way.

I really like these plates and mugs and am looking forward to using them for breakfast or lunch  You may even see them again soon in a different setting!
And now for another Dollar Tree sharing moment....
Several years ago, I was at the Dollar Tree in a neighboring town when I saw this little village.  I fell in love with it and brought it home ... all for $20!  Since then, I've added a few trees and a couple of houses I received as gifts.  The last several years it's been on top of the dining room hutch.

You just never know what treasures you'll find at dollar stores!  That's what makes shopping there such a fun adventure!!   I'm looking forward to reading about the pretty ideas you all find!

Linking to these fabulous parties
       Fox Hollow Cottage  
       Inspire Me Tuesday

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Fall Lunch

Last week, I put together a couple of fall tables with some old reliable recipes in mind.  This weekend I made those for lunch and they were perfect for fall dining!  I thought I'd share them.

French Onion Soup
(based on Ina Garten's recipe)


4 cups yellow onions, halved and sliced
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup of sherry
1/4 cup of Cognac
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups of beef stock
2 cups of vegetable stock
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
Grated Parmesan, Gruyere or Sliced Swiss Cheese, for topping
In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, sauté the sliced onions with the butter and the bay leaf for 20 minutes on medium high heat, until the onions turn a golden brown.  Deglaze the pan with the sherry and brandy and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer uncovered for 15 more minutes.
Add the beef and vegetable stocks to the pot plus the salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and let it simmer  uncovered for about 20 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf, taste for seasonings and serve hot with the cheese of your choice and big chunks of toasted bread.
This also travels well.  We took it one chilly spring day to a local winery.  I packed it up in a thermos with some parmesan croutons.  Yum!!
Autumn Salad

   Fresh greens, such as spinach, red leaf lettuce, romaine, and/or mesclun mix
   1/2 chunked red apple, such as Gala
   1/4 cup dried berries (cranberries, cherries, blueberries)
   1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
   Shavings of parmesan cheese
Mix all the above and toss with enough of the cider vinaigrette (below) to moisten.  Top with parmesan shreds.
Warm Cider Vinaigrette
   3/4 cup apple cider
   2 tablespoons cider vinegar
   2 tablespoons minced shallots or onions
   2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
   1/2 cup olive oil
   1 teaspoon salt
   1/2 teaspoon pepper
Combine the cider, vinegar and shallots/onions in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Simmer 6-7 minutes until it's reduce by about half.  Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. 
What are you cooking up these wonderful Fall days?
 Linking to these great parties:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

More Vacation Pictures from the Northeast 2013

After we left our cousins' home in the Hudson Valley of New York, we drove to Long Island and spent the day driving through the wine country along the north east part of the island.  There is a lot to do and see on Long Island and we will have to go back to spend several days there.  We took the ferry at Orient Point to New London, Connecticut that evening. 


Clyde's Cider Mill
The next day, while driving, we came across Clyde's Cider Mill in Old Mystic, Connecticut.  It was one of those places we JUST had to stop and visit!!  What a treasure! 
This place was an old cider mill still run with steam power!  Wonderful Hubby was in heaven! 
They started with fresh apples.
They were peeled, cut and dumped onto a large table.


The large I-beam was attached to the press and was lowered onto the apple-filled table.


Fresh cider!!

Old Sturbridge Village
Later that day, we toured Old Sturbridge Village.  This is a living museum in Sturbridge, Mass.  It re-creates rural New England life from the 1790's-1830's.  It's about 200 acres and has about 60 buildings.  Costumed interpreters share about life in conversations with visitors.  We enjoyed this immensely!  It is very well done and the interpreters were very engaging.  They 'visited' about life in the early 1800's in everyday language and answered our questions.  You could tell they really enjoyed their jobs!
The Village Potter

The Village Church

Inside one of the village houses
A Farmer in his barn

The Village Cooper


Water-powered Saw Mill
This little village was a fun, relaxing place to visit and learn about the history of our beautiful New England.
We stopped one afternoon in downtown Portland as we worked our way north.  It was full of shops and restaurants.  The restaurant we ate at was called the Old Port Sea Grill.  I had a delicious Lobster Roll.  Who knew a few fresh, simple ingredients could be so yummy?
Wonderful Hubby had this:
He was thrilled!
Cellardoor Wine Fest
One of the events we were especially looking forward to on this trip was the Cellardoor Wine Extravaganza in Lincolnville, Maine.  (Yep, there are wineries even in Maine!) 
This apparently was a weekend event that also included a gala evening featuring a small concert by local celebrity, Daryl Hall (of Hall and Oats fame) and a 'surprise guest.'  We didn't attend the concert, which was going to be held in this large tent on the property.
We had reservations for the VinFest which included a tour of the winery, wine tasting and a meal with select wines paired with each course.
About 50-60 people were also in attendance. First, we were given a tour of the wine-making facility.  Cellardoor is now owned by a lady who used to work for an investment firm.  She said it was a life-changing illness and leap of faith that inspired her to purchase the winery but it has really been a blessing for her.  She is doing a great job and her wines are wonderful!
Although they have hosted the concert/gala in the past, this was the first year for the VinFest/Wine Pairing Meal. It was a great success! We all had a fabulous time and
actually learned a lot in a fun atmosphere!
The owner, Bettina Doulton, is on the left.  Her friend and sommelier-in-training is the gentleman on the right.  The two ladies in the middle were helpers who helped place and fill everyone's glasses for each wine flight.
After the winery tour, we were given the opportunity to try out our 'sniffing skills.' This exercise had us try to identify different types of smells we encounter while eating such as fruity, nutty, earthy, etc. aromas.  These are also present in different varieties of wine. 
Some of these aromas were easily identified and some were more difficult. 
Some were pleasant and some were downright disgusting!!  (LOL!)
We were then give the first flight of wines (whites) to sample.  These samples were from Cellardoor and other wineries around the world.  The gentleman who is training to be a sommelier described what we were tasting with each sample.  Some were very good and others were not.  Wonderful Hubby enjoys a dryer wine than I do, so even we didn't always agree on which ones were good.
Second Flight - Reds
You can see the sheet we used to record our notes about each wine.
After 10 'samples' of wine, it was then time to have our meal/wine pairings.  You can imagine everyone was feeling quite jovial! 
Here was the menu:

Photos of a few of the dishes:
The Rabbit
Rack of Lamb
The chef was from a local restaurant and was outstanding!  He took great care preparing each dish and pairing it with a particular Cellardoor Wine  He then had us try each together, sharing what he had in mind when he selected each.  It really was interesting how they went together so well.  He was quite entertaining and enthusiastic.  (I'm sure it also helped that we had all that wine earlier!) 
After the meal, we sat and visited for awhile with the other guests and staff. 
It was a really nice afternoon!!!
That evening we stayed near Freeport Maine and walked around the L.L. Bean Shopping Complex.  We ate outdoors at a local pizzaria and had the most unusual pizza.
Duck, Fig and Potato Pizza!! 
It really was surprisingly good!  Who would have thought?!
Pemaquid Oyster Fest
The next day, we headed to another New England Festival, the Pemaquid Oyster Fest in Damariscotta, Maine.  This was just a few miles from Lincolnville.
This was essentially a giant local excuse to eat lots of fresh oysters and drink lots of beer!  They had local bands playing (including Old Grey Goose and The Holy Mackerels) and everyone seemed to know one another.  It was quite festive!!  It is also the primary fundraiser for the Edward A. Myers Marine Conservation Fund which helps preserve the local waterfront and marine habitat.
We were given a quick tutorial on shucking fresh oysters,
(Note the Chainmail Glove!) 
and I ate that one with a bit of lemon juice.
WH enjoyed a few more with a variety of toppings.
Unfortunately, the beer lines were so long,
WH wasn't able to wash any down with a refreshing cold one.  :(
While we were in the area, we visited several lighthouses.
One was the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse
It was built on the end of a LONG man-made breakwater. 
You could walk to it but it was quite a hike! 
The lighthouse is the tiny white speck in the right center of this photo.
We walked on the breakwater, which was a little challenging but worth it for the view!
Another Maine lighthouse we visited was the Pemaquid Lighthouse
This was a pretty place on a very rugged coastline.  The historical records described several wrecks that occurred here.  I can't imagine how the survivors felt when they saw and tried to climb up those huge rocks.  It was beautiful and peaceful on the day we were there but would have been incredibly frightening in a violent storm.
You can see WH in the center right.

There was a lobster shack next door, so we had to give it a try!
We enjoyed eating outdoors with this great view!
As we headed west into New Hampshire and the mountains, we encountered gorgeous fall foliage.  I shared some of our best photos in an earlier post here.  We drove admiring the scenery and stopped at a few antique shops. 
Although we didn't take the cog train to the top of Mt. Washington, we did take a ski lift to view it at Bretton Woods.
We were told normally a lot of the mountain is obscured by clouds. 
The day we were there we had a really good view of it.
The first week of our trip was fairly planned out. We had relatives to visit and had reservations for specific events.   The second week was more of an adventure. We enjoyed driving around finding things to do as we went.
One of those "Spur of the Moment" things we did was riding on the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train in North Woodstock, New Hampshire .
It was quite elegant and the meal was delicious!
We also had some nice views from the window...
Another wonderful thing we happened upon was this place!
It started when we came upon this pretty covered bridge in downtown Quechee, Vermont.  (yea, love that name!)  I wanted to take some pictures of it so we got out for a better view. 
 I kept taking pictures from different perspectives. It was built over a river with a lovely waterfall.
WH noticed the restaurant in the background and walked around to the front and that's when he noticed it was a glassblowing factory.
We had never heard of Simon Pearce but were we in for a grand surprise!
About 10 artisans and their apprentices were working downstairs!
They were making gorgeous glass pieces.  This gentleman was making a goblet.
I left WH briefly to take a look upstairs.  OH, MY!
Simon Pearce is the creator of beautiful, high end hand-blown glassware and decorative pieces.
We didn't buy anything.  I was afraid it wouldn't make it home in one piece!  But it was such a treat to see them actually making these works of art!!
We traveled on a bit farther and ran into an artisan village that included another Simon Pearce factory.  This one made pottery.  We watched this artisan create the base of large lamp. 
Here's what these vases would look like when they are completed with the firing and glazing process.
Here are some plates and chargers ready for the oven.
At this same artisan village in Windsor, Vermont, we enjoyed tasting Silo Vodka made from locally grown rye. 
and a variety of ales at the Harpoon Brewery
We also bought several Vermont cheeses from the Vermont Farmstead Cheese Co. 
We had made Lebanon, New Hampshire our base as we drove in the area  several days.  On our last day in Lebabon, after driving by this golf course numerous times, WH decided to play a quick round of golf.  The weather had been perfect and there was a forcast of rain the next day.  We had to enjoy one more day of beautiful fall weather!!
I'm not much of a golfer and was happy to just shoot pictures of
WH and the lovely course in her fall glory.
Here are some of my favorites:

Cooperstown, New York
The last place we visited was a real treat for Wonderful Hubby!  Cooperstown!
WH has love baseball his whole life and visited the Hall of Fame once before.  I don't remember ever being here so it was something I had wanted to see, as well.
We're Cardinal fans, so that's what was special to us!  Here are artifacts from the Gashouse Gang.
Stan, The Man, Musial's locker and uniform
Cardinals of the 1980's
Chris Carpenter
I love this display!  I remember David's teammates mobbing him after that walk-off homerun! 
For a fan, it's incredible to actually SEE some of these items!!
The shoes Lou Brock wore when he broke the stolen base record!
The actual balls Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton threw when they each made history!

The glove Willie Mays used when he made THAT catch in 1964!
Some of those things in there are just .... holy!
Then there are those that have personal significance.  When he was a boy, Wonderful Hubby's family stopped by the stadium on the way home from vacation.  In those days, if you wanted to buy tickets to a Cardinals' game, you had to buy them there.  While his dad was getting the tickets, a handsome man struck a conversation with WH.  This man asked him if he played ball and for what team.  WH proudly told him, "Yes, I pitch for Hawk Point."  He asked the man if he played, too.  The reply was, "Yes, I play outfield for the Pirates."  It was only then did WH realize he was talking to Roberto Clemente!  He said he was such a nice, humble man.  What a special memory!
WH's aunt and uncle were neighbors of Bob Broeg, St. Louis Post Dispatch Sports Writer and author.  He loved hearing Bob tell stories of his many years covering the St. Louis Browns and Cardinals!  One of the stories Bob shared was of his interview of Eddie Gaedel.  Eddie, who had dwarfism, played in one game in 1951 for the St. Louis Browns.  He walked on 4 pitches and was then replaced by a pinch runner.  Bob did the interview in the press box during the remainder of the game.  He said he helped Eddie up on the desk so he could interview him face to face while watching the game.  At the end of the interview, Bob told Eddie, "Well, you can say something most people can't say."  Eddie asked what that was and Bob said, "You're a major league baseball player!" 
 Eddie's chest puffed out as he realized, with pride, "Yep, that's right!! "
Well, that's our 2013 Fall Trip to New England!  What wonderful memories we have!  Thanks for sharing them with us.