Monday, June 30, 2014

Stars and Stripes and Checks, Too

I've set a July 4th Celebration table in the kitchen today. 
I had a lot of fun collecting these dishes.  The melamine plates were on sale at Kroger, the bowls were from Target.  I found the glasses and napkins at Dollar General this spring.  The Corelle dishes and flatware were from Wal-Mart.   


The galvanized candle holders were from a local mercantile store and I've used them several different ways this summer.  I also plan to switch out the blue ribbon and use them this next Christmas.

The runner was from Kohls' (after the holiday last year) and I've had the plastic 'lace' tablecloth for years.
Sometimes you can get a lot of BANG for just a little Buck!!   :)
We are planning a quiet 4th of July celebration this year.  Both kids will be out of town celebrating with their friends. 
Hope you have a fun and safe weekend!! 
Linking to:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pollinator Bird Bath

I came across this idea during "Pollinator Week," June 16-22.  I have a bird bath in my new butterfly garden but didn't realize my little bees, butterflies and other tiny buzzers needed a special place to take a sip and dip.
This is quite simple to make.  Just get a clean shallow dish, fill it with pebbles or marbles and add clean fresh water.
I had two flower pot trays I wasn't using.  We also had decorative marbles left over from our 25th wedding anniversary last year. 
 You could use pebbles instead.
After finding a flat, shady spot, the dishes are filled to just below the marble level with clean water.
I placed one in my new butterfly garden and the other one near a part of our yard we have left in wildflowers. 
Happy pollinators!!   This would be a great idea for an easy summer family project.  Just remember to clean the stones and dish periodically so our little friends always have fresh clean water.
Hope you're enjoying your summer!
Linking to:
   The Scoop

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pretty In Purple

Sometimes this tablescaping hobby is a real creative evolution.  I've drawn this setting's inspiration from ideas and suggestions of several bloggers I follow. 
I just love reading their posts!  They have such great ideas, beautiful settings and stunning photography!! 
Kathleen, of Cuisine Kathleen, has challenge us to set something whimsical for summer. 
Mary, at Home Is Where The Boat Is, includes quilts in many of her posts.  She has a lovely collection and incorporates them so beautifully. 
And Pat at Back Porch Musings, asked how we planned our table settings. 
Well, this setting was one that has evolved over about a month but actually just came together at the last minute.  Does that make sense?? 
Here's how it happened.
I'd been wanting to set an outdoor table near some of my garden flowers for awhile.  We've had quite a bit of rain lately and on the days I was free to set everything up it usually turned out to be cloudy and rainy. 
Late last week I finally decided to just go ahead and set up something quick to see if I could capture what I had been thinking about.  There were spotty rain showers all over the radar map but now and then
the sun would peak out.
I found these lavender dishes last month on my trip to the Ozarks.  The napkins were acquired on my trip to Amish Country last month, too.  I had been storing them in the spare bedroom/Precious Daughter's room.  I had set them on the bed which has one of my grandmother's old quilts.  I had never thought of using the quilt as a tablecloth but when I ran up to get the dishes, I saw them sitting together.  So I grabbed it, too.  The birdcage floral arrangement from that room also came outside.
I set a simple table and even though it sprinkled a bit while I was photographing (and I had to do a little photo editing), I was pretty pleased with the outcome.  If I'd had longer, I would have added a few more elements to the table and a few pillows on the chairs. 

This little setting was one of those happy surprises!  Who knew? Sometimes, you just have to take a chance, grab a few things, and run out into the rain!! 
I'm so glad you stopped by for a visit!!  Please visit the other participants linking to these great parties:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tomato Crostinis with Whipped Feta

Last month was such a busy month, I forgot to post a recipe from one of our Friday Night Specials!   Like I mentioned earlier,
I'm really loving this retirement!
Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta
I saw Ina Garten make these crostinis on one of her Barefoot Contessa shows and thought they looked easy.  Wonderful Hubby likes feta cheese (more than I do) and I thought he'd enjoy these after a hard work week.  I was surprised how much I liked them, too!  Whipping the cheese and adding the other ingredients gives the feta a slightly different flavor.  I hope you'll try them sometime this summer.  They really are yummy!! 
6 oz. good feta, crumbled
2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 lbs cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned, plus extra for garnish
20 to 25 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal baguette slices, toasted
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.
For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you're serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasonings.
To assemble the crostini spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.
I also served these at a picnic we had recently.  They were the first to go!
Let me know what you've been cooking!
Linking to:
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

Monday, June 9, 2014

Beer Tasting at Book Club!

Last week I hosted our monthly book club.  The book we discussed was Bitter Brew by William Knoedelseder.   It chronicles the rise and fall of the Busch beer dynasty in St. Louis, Missouri.  Since most of us grew up in the St. Louis area, we thought it would be a good read. 

Normally, the hostess provides some munchies and wine during the discussion.  Since we were talking about the Anheuser-Busch company (now AB Inbev) I decided to serve those little flavored margaritas from AB. 

We had a lively discussion about Gussie, the baseball Cardinals and the circumstances that eventually lead to the InBev take over. 

If you're familiar with the Anheuser-Busch/InBev Company you know they have a wide variety of beer products.  I thought it'd be fun to do a Taste Test of several of these different beers.

 I set up my supplies, including a tote to hold my sample beers (check out those 25 oz. cans!), beer glasses, water pitcher and a dump bucket to rinse our glasses between samples.

 I love this little tote I found at Tractor Supply.  It usually holds mason jars or wine bottles.  It also does a surprisingly great job with large beer cans!

 I found these beer glasses for $1 each at Wal-Mart.  Displaying them on one of my silver-plate trays classed them up a bit, don't you think?  After all, we're a bunch of classy ladies!

 After sampling seven varieties, none of us could agree on a favorite.  Each of us preferred a different one, and a couple had SEVERAL favorites!!  Personally, I guess my choice was good old Budweiser, although I REALLY like those little fruit-flavored margaritas!!  :)

I also served individual Berry Tarts with Lemon Cookie Crusts.  I put them together after our Taste Test and forgot to take a picture.  Here's the leftover.  Wonderful Hubby got to take it to work the next day.

 The recipe is here.  They were really good and can be made as one large tart or individual tarts.  Once you bake off the cookie crusts and stir up the cream cheese and Greek yogurt filling, assembly is quick and easy.  Add the berries of your choice.  I planned on serving these with red raspberries but couldn't find that day.

We had a great night talking about this book, sampling some great AB beer and visiting together!  I love my book club buddies!!

What book have you read recently? 

Sharing at these parties:

Submarine Sunday

Amaze Me Monday

Tuesdays at Our House

Your Gonna Love It Tuesday

Share Your Cup Thursday

Home Sweet Home

Fridays Unfolded

Foodie Friday

Saturday, June 7, 2014

May 2014


Well, another month has passed and it's hard to believe I've just celebrated the first anniversary of my retirement!!  It has been a busy year and I'm loving it!!

This May was especially busy with fun adventures enjoying the warmer weather.  Here are the highlights.

I spent A LOT of time in the gardens this month.  Once again, I think I pushed the weather a bit.  I tend to start planting the first or second warm day we have then end up pulling everything in or covering them up when Jack Frost returns.  Well, May had lots of pleasant warm days and enough moisture so those early plantings are well settled into their gardens beds.

... and one of the salads we enjoyed from it!
The Knock-Out Roses then ...
(I really gave them a haircut this February!!  Some of these guys had gotten almost as tall as me in just 3 years!  "Back off, boys!!")

...and now!


The Vegetable Garden then ...

(Tiny Cabbages and a little spinach)



(Peas and kale)

... and now!

You can see the pea vines are already blooming on either side of the cabbages.  The kale is on the far right.

Yep, those were tomatoes!  Bush green beans in the foreground.

Couldn't go to the garden without Sallie!

Here are some shots from the flower beds -


A special THANK YOU to Wonderful Hubby and Favorite Son for helping me with all of the mulch!! 
There were several 'capers' out and about this month.  Early in May, Precious Daughter,  Dear Mother-in-Law and our World-Traveling Cousin went on a "Kitchens in Bloom Tour" in Columbia, MO to benefit their Council on Aging.  Unfortunately, there were no pictures allowed but we saw 5 different kitchen that had been recently updated in a variety of styles.  Each of us had our favorite and it was such a fun tour, we hope to go on it again sometime! 
Later that week, several of my retired buddies and I traveled to Pike County, MO to visit Amish Country.  It was a bright and lovely day to be in the country.  The stores and people we visited were so inviting!  Oh, and the goodies we brought home! 
(Yes, there were six to begin with.)
You can read more about that trip HERE.
In the middle of the month, Wonderful Hubby had a meeting at the Lake of the Ozarks and I went along.  I met Sweet Sister (who lives in the area) and we shopped for the day!  It was fun to spend the day together!  Hope we can do it again VERY soon!!  On the way home, WH took me by Cranes Country Store in Williamsburg, MO.  What fun!  They've been selling Boots, Bullets, Britches and Bologna since 1899!
That weekend, several of my Master Gardener Buddies went with me to the Ste. Genevieve (MO) Garden Walk.  What a treat!!  Here are just a few photos.
Precious Daughter made me this sweet cake for Mother's Day.  Isn't it neat!! 
The next week, I was hostess for our local Garden Club.  One of my Master Gardener friends, presented an informative program on Bees, Butterflies and Other Pollinators.  I made shortbread cookies in the shape of butterflies and flowers, as well as blueberry muffins. 
Our Community Gardens are coming along.  We've already donated almost 50 pounds of produce to our local food pantry!  

You can keep up with all of our projects at our new website:  
Finally, I gave a history presentation for a friend who was recovering from surgery.  She is a quilter and has made MANY lovely pieces.  One quilt is a replica of an Underground Railroad Sampler Quilt.  She presents this program to the Fifth Graders in the school where she used to teach.  Since she was laid up, I filled in for her.  She was well prepared, which made my job easier! 
 Speaking of quilts, I finished another quilt top and hope to start quilting it soon.
There wasn't much time for tablescapes this month but I did one table using our wedding dishes.  Kathleen of Cuisine Kathleen challenged us to use our (or a family member's) wedding china.  We chose a Pfaltsgraff pattern 26 years ago: Remembrance.  You can read more about it here.
Here is Favorite Son standing with Wonderful Hubby and his second turkey of the spring season. 

Just a few extra photos, just because.
Garden Produce! 
                        Spring storms bring hail!
 New chair cushions for the back porch!

Could we be seeing new neighbors soon?  This little wren's nest was built in one of my potted herbs.  She has five eggs.  I'll keep you posted! 
Thanks for stopping by.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you've been up to.
  Happy June!