Friday, January 31, 2014

Rustic and Romantic

With Valentine's Day approaching I had been thinking about setting an elegant and romantic table, complete with gorgeous flowers. But since the temperatures have been so frigid lately, I've been afraid to bring any flowers home.  They wouldn't look very romantic if they had frostbite!

After finding these mugs and bowls, I thought I might set a pretty "rustic and romantic" table instead.

We're expecting more snow and ice this weekend, so a table in front of the fireplace seems cozy.
I love these bowls and mugs.  The bowls will be perfect for chili or vegetable soup, don't you think?  The mugs' generous size ensures plenty of coffee, tea or hot chocolate!
Aren't their handles unique?
 I love these farmhouse bowls from William Sonoma.  They coordinate with several other dishes I have so I'm using them a lot this winter.
These placemats help set the mood!
I used napkins, rings, plates and some vintage spoons to complete the place settings.

Continuing with the rustic forest theme, I brought together some décor I've been using elsewhere in our home.



Even though this isn't the most romantic table, I may be setting it again for a Valentine lunch with my sweetie this week!

  Hope you're staying warm and cozy!  Thanks for stopping by.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January in Review

We've had a very long and cold January but there have been some highlights.
We ended 2013 and started off 2014 with a delicious New Year's Eve dinner at home.  Several years ago we started the tradition of eating out for lunch on New Year's Eve then shopping for our holiday dinner.  It's so nice to spend the evening cooking and eating together in our own home.  This year, we enjoyed grilled rib eyes, roasted shrimp, asparagus...

and salad with parmesan crisps. 

I shared the easy recipe for the crisps here.
We had blackberry cream tarts for dessert!
January has been REALLY cold here and since we heat our home with a Hardy woodstove, we've spent several weekends cutting wood.
Wonderful Hubby thought the wood you see would heat our home for about
two weeks of really cold weather
We had some help from Precious Daughter and Favorite Son ...
Is that someone checking their messages instead of working????
One of the dead trees we cut up was a thorny locust.  I noticed some thorns in a log I picked up and mentioned it.  No one believed me until Favorite Son spied this one.  YIKES!! 
We were all quite surprised to see the size of these 'internal' thorns!!
We were glad to have the extra wood because we've had
several snow storms ...
(Don't know how this snow appeared on the photo but it's pretty cool!)
... and some very frigid temperatures!
We've had to keep the dogs in the basement several nights. 
Jewel hates getting her picture taken!  She has Mr. Whale and is pouting.  Champy has Mr. Pillow and Sallie, well, Sallie is just her usual smiling self!
(Please excuse my craft area.)   :)
With all the time spent inside, I was able to complete a couple of projects.  I'd been working on an afghan for Favorite Son for about a year and finally finished it up.
After visiting the Missouri Star Quilting Co. in Hamilton, MO, I was inspired to try my hand at quilting again.  I hadn't done that in probably about 20 years! 
(WOW, that makes me sound old!!   Well, I guess I am!)
I made this red Disappearing Nine Patch for one of the spare bedrooms.
I still need to quilt it, so I guess it's not exactly finished.
There was also a little time for tablescaping,
a new hobby that gives me the excuse to play with dishes again!! 
My mother-in-law and I found these pretty blue bowls and the delicate wine/cordial glasses at a local auction.  You can see the whole post here.
I also set a green table for Precious Daughter's birthday party.
You can read about that event here.
It also included directions to make the cupcakes she requested.
I also shared my recipe for Eggplant Caponata and how
Wonderful Hubby and I started our "Friday Night Specials."
We've also enjoyed some other cozy meals this blustery month.
Sautéed pepper bruschettas, chocolate and wine!
Roasted Potato and Leek Soup
We ended the year by attending our local University Extension Banquet where seven local farms, including Wonderful Hubby's, were recognized as Century Farms. 
(Each had been in the same family for at least 100 years.) 
Even with the chilly temperatures, we've been able to have a lot of fun being together. Wind chills of -15 F seem to make Nature appear cruel but if you take time to look around and enjoy what you have, you can always find something beautiful.


(These last two photos were not retouched. 
God needs no help with his artwork!)
Thanks for stopping by!

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Birthday Celebration

We celebrated Precious Daughter's 24th birthday Saturday evening. 
Her favorite color is green so I tried to incorporate that color in the table setting.

Since she's a beautiful young lady, I tried to set a more elegant table
than we usually do for birthdays.

The dinner menu included crab legs, steak, roasted shrimp, green bean casserole and herbed rice.  As usual, when the food hit the table, the camera was forgotten!! 
However, it was delicious and everyone seemed to enjoy it all!

Dinner by candlelight...

Her special dessert request included Amish Sugar Cookies with green sprinkles and Rainbow Sprinkle Cupcakes.  The sugar cookie recipe is an old family favorite but she had a new spin on the cupcakes. 

She found the cupcake recipe on Pinterest.  It's quite simple.  Combine one box of cake mix with a can of diet lemon-lime soda.  I found I needed to bake the cupcakes just a little longer than the box suggested.  Then we frosted them with a combination of prepared whipped topping and a small box of sugar-free vanilla pudding mix.  We refrigerated them until about 15 minutes before serving.  They were quite delicious and probably had a few less calories
than they would have had otherwise!

Happy birthday, Precious Daughter!!  We love you!
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Wintry Disappearing Nine Patch

Recently, I visited the Missouri Star Quilt Company in Hamilton, MO with a friend.  She had told me about all their great fabrics and live tutorials and what a place it was!!  While there, one of the workers demonstrated how to make a Disappearing Nine Patch.  It seemed fast and easy so I decided to give it a try. 

While taking down Christmas decorations in one of our spare bedrooms, I decided just what color to make that quilt.  In the winter I decorate this room with red and white.  Since there is a wall shelf/quilt rack on the wall, I thought a red wall quilt would be something I could keep up from Christmas through Valentine's Day.

I finished the top last night and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out! 

Now, it's time to quilt.

Linking to:
   Seasonal Sunday
   Amaze Me Monday
   The Scoop
   Tuesdays At Our House
   Fabric Tuesday 
   Needle and Thread Thursday
   Creativity Unleashed
   Friday Unfolded

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Friday Night Specials

Wonderful Hubby has worked second shift for almost all of our 25 years of marriage.  For many years, he wouldn't get home before 2 or 3 a.m., after working a 10 - 12 hour shift. The kids and I really only got to spend quality time with him on the weekends.  Several years ago, his overtime was cut and his shift time was adjusted so that he was able to come home around 11 p.m.   I was still teaching so I was usually in bed by 11 during the week.  One Friday, I decided to stay up and surprise him with a little snack and a glass of wine when he got home.  I think I had something simple like cheese and crackers.  It was so nice to sit and visit and catch up with each other!  He really appreciated my effort (which wasn't that much!) so I decided to give it a try the next week. 
Over the next year and a half, my 'Friday Night Specials' became more elaborate.  I wasn't a very confident cook but it really didn't matter since I always kept some brie and cheddar on hand.  I tried quite a few appetizer recipes and actually amassed quite a collection of recipes we liked. 
Precious Daughter and Favorite Son took notice and had a habit of showing up about the time Dad got home to see what Mom had fixed to eat.  (I always made extras, just in case!) 
I've really enjoyed finding recipes and preparing these appetizers JUST FOR FUN!  Most of them were good, a few not so much, but that was ok.  Wonderful Hubby and I always enjoyed a bottle of wine and being together. 
Now, Wonderful Hubby is on first shift so I get to cook supper for him every night!  That requires a whole new kind of planning but I really enjoy it!  I believe I've become a better cook because of those Friday Night Specials and I certainly feel more confident.  Rumor has it, he may go back to second shift sometime this next year.  If that happens, I'll be ready to welcome our weekends!

Each month this year, I'll share one of our favorite appetizer recipes.   I hope you find time to make and enjoy them with the special people in your life!

This month's recipe is a spicy dip made with roasted eggplant, peppers, olives and lots of seasonings and fresh herbs.  Make it a bit ahead so the flavors have time to blend.  You can serve it with store bought chips but, if you have the time, the homemade pita chips go so well with it!

Roasted Eggplant Caponata
    A recipe by Ina Garten

1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
Olive Oil
4 oz. jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
1/3- 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons parsley, minced
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
Toasted pita wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line a half sheet pan with foil.

Place the whole eggplant on the pan, prick with a fork in several places, and rub with olive oil. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft when pierced with a knife. Set aside to cool. Halve the eggplant, peel, and discard the skin. Place the eggplant, peppers, and olives in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped. Pour into a mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onion is lightly browned. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute, and add to the eggplant mixture. Add the parsley, pine nuts, lemon juice, capers, tomato paste, vinegar, salt, and pepper and mix. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop. Taste for seasonings and serve at room temperature with toasted pita triangles.

Toasted Pita Wedges
1 package pita wedges
Olive Oil
Seasoned salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut each pita bread in quarters and each quarter in half to make 8 triangles. Place them in a single layer on a sheet pan and brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Bake for about 10 minutes, until crisp, turning once.


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Monday, January 13, 2014

Blue January

I have a New Year's goal of posting a tablescape once a month but I was having trouble being inspired with all the nasty winter weather Missouri has had lately.  Last week, several bloggers I visited used blue or aqua in their tables and it got me thinking....
My mother-in-law and I attended a local auction before Christmas and we did quite well.  Part of our haul included several mismatched, but lovely dishes and glassware.  I decided to use a couple of things from that day. 

These soup bowls are quite delicate.  They seemed well used but
still very pretty.
I was so surprised when I visited Janet at Rosemary and Thyme and saw she had chosen the same pattern to highlight this week!!  She has the plates, cups and saucers.  I just have these four bowls.
The bowls' pattern hints of spring but the tablecloth brings me back to reality ... wintry January.
The other acquisition I'm using from that pre-Christmas auction are these pretty little wine or cordial glasses. 
They are quite delicate and thin.  Like many auction items, there were five in this set instead of six. 

For the center of the table, I decided to use a simple pitcher of flowers on an old silver tray.  We received the tray as a wedding gift many years ago.  I love how they have come back in style!
After braving 10 inches of snow and subzero temperatures last week, I find myself dreaming of my summer flowers and gardens.
But for now, I'll have to settle for the cheery blooms I find on my dishes!

I hope you're staying warm and cozy!
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