Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall Tables and More

When I first started "pinning" and reading decorating and tablescaping blogs about a year ago, I was so captivated and inspired by all the ideas!  I know some of these blogs are written by professionals but it seemed some writers were just like me, newbies who love to learn and experiment with new styles.  I thought, "I could do something like that." 

Well, I've been on this blogging journey about 6 months now and can say it's been a wonderful challenge.  I doubt I'll ever be as interesting or creative as some of you, but that doesn't matter.  I have so much fun joining all of you as we share our experiences and learn from them!

Enough of that!

I've finally put together a couple of fall tables.  (Since our vacation to the Northeast, I've been pretty busy.)  Several of the elements I've used have been collected throughout the year.  When I first decided to attempt this hobby/adventure, one of my goals was NOT to break the bank as I added to my dish/décor collection.  I love your comments about finding great deals at Goodwill/resale shops and on the sales racks of retail stores.  You really can get good deals on pretty things!!  It is also a lot of fun thinking about how you can use and reuse items for different looks.

Here are two different tables using some of the same elements.  The first one would be great for French Onion Soup and sandwiches, the second would make a nice lunch setting for a fall salad. 

I'll share those recipes later this week!


Is it cheating to use the same centerpiece?  Actually, I just found these leaf plates and wanted to use them as I was taking the pictures.  Next time, I'll try and not shoot two tables at one time!!
While I was taking photos, I decided to see how some of my fall decorating looked in pictures.  As I've been practicing my photography, I've noticed how different things look, depending on the angle, lighting, etc.

I've seen lots of people use their old silver trays in their décor.  After rummaging around in the storage closet, I found a few old wedding presents!  And, they had JUST the right amount of 'patina' on them to be stylish!!!  (I doubt they would have found their way out of the closet if I'd had to have cleaned them up!)  They look pretty nice with my mercury glass candlesticks.

Our old Hoosier Cabinet sets the stage for another fall display. I've mixed several old items with new ones.  The white pitcher was my mother's, the little brown teapot bank was my mother-in-law's and the plate was from my husband's neighbor. 

I decided to take the old window that had been up all summer and use it in a different part of our home.  I recovered the burlap wreath with a lighter color burlap that helped it
stand out from the brick.
Have you seen that plate before???  It does double duty on the mantel!  Two other items on this mantel are from Wonderful Hubby.  When we first started dating, he saw the squirrel nutcracker advertised at an auction.  He knew I collected nutcrackers and had his mother bid on it for him.  She was successful and this was first gift he (or was it she?!) gave me.   WH loves to do woodworking when time allows and he made me a pair of those lovely swirled candle holders.  The swirls go in opposite directions!  Sometime I'll use both of them in a post.

Don't you just love the hedgehog?   His bristles are made of little sticks all cut at an angle.  No hibernation for this fellow; I use him a lot during the fall and winter!  The lantern was used by my great Granny.  Mom told me she remembered Granny cleaning it every night. 
I added the plate just the other day.  With Thanksgiving on the way, it's a good time to take stock of the blessings in our lives and I thank God everyday for a loving family, good health and great friends.
I'm finding this blogging adventure to be fun and challenging!  I appreciate you stopping by and joining me!  Wishing you a wonderful week!
Linking to these great parties:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Curried Apple and Butternut Squash Soup

Our Facebook Cookbook Club's October challenge was using a recipe from the website  I had never heard of this site before but I've certainly got it bookmarked now!! 
Since I love making soup as the weather cools, I perused that section first.  I was able to raise a few butternut squash in my garden and wanted to use them so when I came across this recipe, I wanted to give it a try.  Wonderful Hubby and I are glad I did!

Curried Apple Butternut Squash Soup
added by Marsha Gardner
Maybe you want a soup that’s a little sweet, one that will fool your tastebuds into thinking that they’re getting away with something. That something, my friends, is curried apple and butternut squash soup. If fall could be cooked and blended into a soup, it'd certainly be this one.
5 lb butternut squash
4-5 gala apples
4 c yellow onion, chopped
2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
2 Tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 c water
2 c apple juice or apple cider
1. Warm the butter, olive oil, onions, and curry powder in a large uncovered stockpot over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are tender. Stir occasionally and scrape the bottom of the pot to keep the onions from sticking. Peel and cut up the apples and squash into smallish cubes.
2. Add the squash, apples, salt, pepper, and water to the stockpot. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 40 minutes over low heat. Transfer the cooked pre-soup into a blender or food processor to puree. You’ll have to do this in batches, so it will be handy to have an extra pot or bowl around to use as you blend. Don’t be tempted to use an immersion blender; the squash will be too strong for it. Once all of the soup is blended and back in its rightful pot, slowly add the apple juice until it is the desired consistency.
3. You won’t need to add much to this soup. Just ladle it into a bowl and enjoy. It goes well with a side salad, and a crusty baguette is always helpful to soak up as much of the sweet goodness as you can.

I made half this recipe.  (Although I was able to raise some butternuts, there wasn't 5 pounds!!)  We enjoy some curry but I eased up on that spice using a scant teaspoon in the half recipe instead of 1 Tablespoon.  It worked well for us.  I also used apple cider instead of juice, because 'tis the season!!


Using the changes mentioned above, we really liked this soup.  It's just the right amount of 'spicy' as well as a bit of sweet.  I will certainly make it again! 
Happy Fall Eating!

Linking to:

Seasonal Sunday
Domestic Superhero

Thursday, October 17, 2013

White and Burgundy

Kathleen offered up a challenge in white table scaping several month ago.  I've been thinking about this and even asked Precious Daughter which accent color I should use to highlight the white setting.  She immediately said,  "Burgundy!"  At first I was skeptical. (I usually like to use burgundy with a more wintry 'scape.)  But the more I thought more about her suggestion, the more I warmed to the idea .. and the more burgundy I found! 



I decided to keep the center piece simple with this white pumpkin from Kirkland's on a white cake stand (slightly elevated with a transparent burgundy plate!).


I found these versatile burgundy napkins on sale at World Market!


 These pretty chargers were from Michael's. 


I found the leaf votive holders as well as the burgundy ramekins at our local Dollar General Store! 

The water glasses we've had since our wedding and the wine glasses were a thrift store find.  The white dishes are from Old Time Pottery MANY years ago.  I find I use these a lot for large dinner parties.  They can be dressed up in so many different colors, which is why I think Kathleen may have put forth her challenge! 
Be sure you visit the other sites participating in this challenge.  Their inspirations will get your creative juices flowing! 
Oh, the beauty of WHITE!
Linking to:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall Colors in New England

I'm slowly getting caught up on the many chores since returning from our vacation to New England.  This post is just for fun.  It's a collection of some of the gorgeous fall foliage we enjoyed.

The first three photos were taken at Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Mass.



Quechee, Vermont
Carter Golf Course, Lebanon, New Hampshire 

Happy Fall from Mt. Washington, New Hampshire!

Hope you are enjoying some fabulous fall foliage out your window!
Linking to:

My Newest Addition to Meet the Challenge

On our recent vacation to New England, we did some Antiquing.  One of the stores had some brown printed dishes that I really liked.  They weren't antique transferware but pretty and versatile .... and cheap!  I purchased 8 pieces for just over $10!!!  They are the inspiration in my table today.   

Fall is in the air so I pulled out my white lidded pumpkin bowls.  
Here is a close up of my new 'old' dishes.  They included 2 dinner plates, 2 dessert plates, 2 soup bowls and 2 berry bowls. The plates are included in this setting.  I'm used my everyday dishes as chargers.
Wonderful Hubby had a very  special neighbor lady as he was growing up.  The display plate is from her estate.  We purchased it many years ago at her sale.  The brown transferware stand is from a favorite local shop, All About Home, in Troy, Missouri. I think the lantern is from Hobby Lobby.
I'm planning on serving a variation of Ina Garten's Roasted Potato and Leek Soup later in the week as the temperature are scheduled to turn cooler. This setting will work nicely for the soup and crusty bread.  I'll post that recipe in a few days.
Hope you are enjoying some Fall weather, too!
Linking to:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Hudson Valley

We had a great time vacationing during the fall this year!  As a teacher, I was never able to do this, so when Wonderful Hubby asked what the vacation destination was going to be this year, I told him I'd love to go to New England in the Fall.  We have cousins who live in Hyde Park, NY so they would be our first destination!

We made it to Indianapolis the first night .... just in time to dine at our favorite Indy restaurant, The Rathskeller.  It has Bavarian cuisine that is fabulous!  Jerry enjoyed the Jäegerschnitzel (which really was as delicious as it was in Zell, Germany!!)

and I had the Reuben Sandwich with their warm German potato salad (YUMMM!!) 

(This is for you, Lori!)  

It rained on us driving through most of Pennsylvania.  In fact, we had planned to go to the Pirates game on our second evening out but it was still sprinkling when we drove by the stadium and were afraid they might call the game off.  We  decided to watch it on television.

The rain let up on our third day and made driving into the eastern part of New York more enjoyable.  We made it to our cousins' home and they had dinner waiting.  We enjoyed a delicious meal, catching up with Sarah and Mark and planning our visit. 

The next morning, Wonderful Hubby and I toured the Culinary Institute of America. 

These students are SERIOUS foodies!  They have a very intense curriculum but seem to thrive and love the challenges.  We ate another fabulous meal here before heading off to our next adventure.  We weren't able to take photos inside the school but I did get a shot of the 'edible landscaping.'  Isn't this amazing??   Lavender, spinach, Swiss chard ... oh, my!!

Sarah and Mark joined us on our tour of FDR's Home, Springwood.  We had a very entertaining tour guide.  Here are a few photos.
The Library
This table was set as Franklin's mother, Sara, would enjoy her breakfast.
Franklin's Room
Mommy Sara's Room
Wife Eleanor's Room
(It's a bit small, don't you think?  Can you understand why she ended up having her own house built on the other end of the farm??? 
I have to digress here.  Our humorous tour guided had read several books on the family dynamics of the Roosevelts and put forth the concept that  Sara might not have been as domineering a person as she is typically portrayed.  Apparently, Franklin never really learned to handle money (he had quite a few collections such as model ships  (like over 100), art (the collection in the basement was extensive), rare books, coins and stamps.  According to our guide, Sara paid for everything.  No wonder he never crossed her.  Instead of making a new home with Eleanor when they were married, he just brought her to Mommy's house.  What woman would give up HER home to her new daughter-in-law and move out?  Hmmm?
Well, this certainly made for lively discussions during our tour!!
I loved this next room

It was called the "Queen Room" because this is the room Queen Elizabeth stayed in when she visited.  Can you believe they had her sleep in a twin bed?  Not even a QUEEN SIZE bed???  LOL!
It is pretty, though.

FDR and Eleanor are buried on the grounds in the beautiful gardens.  I didn't take a picture of their graves but here are some of the gardens.

The next day we visited the Vanderbilt Mansion.  We were thrilled to discover our tour guide was none other than our guide from FDR's home!!  (Ha!)
 This home was built by Fredrick and Louise Vanderbilt, Fredrick being one of Col. William Henry Vanderbilt's 8 children.  The Col. made his fortune in railroads and according to our guide, this 'seasonal home' was the smallest of all the Vanderbilt children's many homes.  Ah, to be rich during the Gilded Age!! 
This place actually 'topped' FDR's home, in my opinion.  For example, just look at the ceilings....


What incredible detail!!
Here's part of the dining room.  I couldn't get the whole room in the frame even though I was standing out in the hallway.
Although the couple didn't have children, it was fun to wonder if the little ones would complain about having to sit at THIS kiddie table?  (Yes, the big table is to the left.)
Fredrick and Louise had very different decorating taste.
For example,
The Man-Cave
The Ladies' Parlor
His bedroom
Her bedroom
(Yes, that's a railing around her bed.)
The view of the gorgeous Hudson River Valley from the backyard!  The colors were just beginning to turn in this part of New York.

Our cousin, Mark, decided to take the day off and met us after we finished the Vanderbilt Mansion.  He drove us north of Hyde Park to Olana, home of Hudson Valley Artist, Fredrick Church.  This home was completely different than the previous two we'd just toured.  The Persian architecture is unusual yet beautiful!
We weren't allowed to take photographs inside the home but OMG was it neat!  Wonderful Hubby and I were interested in seeing this home since we had attended an auction in St. Louis  several years ago when one of Fredrick Church's paintings (The Old Mill) sold for over $2.5 million.  (We NEVER go to those kinds of auctions and it made quite an impression!!!) 
This home was full of his paintings and paintings of several other artists, mostly of the Hudson Valley School-style. 
The Churches were world travelers, devout Christians and devoted to their family.  Many items in their home reflected each of these attributes and I wish I could have taken some photos of the really beautiful and unusual pieces they collected.  Of the three homes we visited during our time in the Hudson Valley, I have to say Olana was my favorite!!
I'll have another update soon.  I've been a bit busy since returning several days ago.  The weatherman says things may change on Tuesday and I have quite a few garden/yard projects to finish before then.
Have a great week!!