Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lemon Tablescape

How many of you remember the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" story from your children's childhood?  My husband and I must have read this story - and its sequels (If You Give a Moose a Muffin, If You Give a Pig a Pancake) a hundred times!  What fun times!

And now, I've created my own version.  It goes like this:  If you give Maria a Lemon Thyme herb plant,


the variegated Lemon Thyme that she can find locally only at Trader Joe's every other year . . .


chances are she's going to want to bake something special . . .


like the Citrus Loaf Cake from Rattlebridge Farm . . . 


When she makes the cake, she'll realize she needs to put together a tablescape to go with it.  


She'll want to use her Botanical Citrus Salad plates from Williams-Sonoma, showcasing limes . . .


blood oranges . . . 


grapefruits . . .


and, of course, lemons!


To complete the table, she'll realize she needs a nice centerpiece . . .


Some lemony yellow roses interspersed with creamy whites . . .


Set on a vase surrounded by lemon slices . . .


Once the table is set, she'll want to invite some friends for lunch . . .

  
If she invites some friends, it'll dawn on her that she's now going to have to prepare some food, because, unfortunately, it won't magically appear in her kitchen.  She makes a nice arugula salad with shaved Parmesan cheese and dressed with a lemon vinaigrette . . .


using her precious olive oil, bought in Italy last year while she was traveling in Tuscany.


Then, she'll prepare one of her favorite dishes:  Chicken Marbella, from the Silver Palate Cookbook.


The chicken is prepared with yummy treats like, olives, capers, prunes, garlic, oregano, and, of course, more precious olive oil . . .  All those good things that remind her of the Costa del Sol  . . .


Then sprinkled with brown sugar, which will caramelize during baking and flavor the chicken beautifully . . .


Once the chicken is done, she'll need to turn her attention to the beverages, and, since her mind is still taking a short trip back to Italy, Pallini Palmers seem perfect for the occasion!


Made with her favorite Arnold Palmer recipe, and adding a generous portion of Pallini Limoncello,


It's a perfect summer drink!


There are a lot of lemons in this post, but as Mae West once famously said:  “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”


She and her guests can glance at her flowering clematis in the backyard, just to cleanse their visual palate . . .


Her friends will come and share the food, the drinks, and some lovely conversation on a beautiful summer afternoon . . .


And chances are . . . she'll have so much fun, she'll want to do it again and again!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Of Frogs, Princes and Fathers

One upon a time, in a land far away (well, 90 miles south of Key West, actually), 

Image result for map of cuba

there lived a little girl who loved to read – a habit nurtured by her father, a serious book lover and avid reader. 

While she was growing up in the sixties, the Evil Communist Regime was strengthening its yoke on her beautiful country.  Books were becoming scarce, but her father was part of an informal network of neighbors and friends that would lend out books, just like a library.  While the little girl continued to read, there was no opportunity to re-read, one of the true pleasures of reading aficionados, because the books had to be returned right away.

One summer afternoon, however, the father was actually able to buy and present his daughter with a brand new book for her very own collection: “El príncipe rana” – The Frog Prince - which she promptly devoured and reread many times over the coming months until it was in tatters.  


The little girl fell in love with the story, in part because she could relate so much to the princess in the book:  She was a bit lonely, a bit spoiled, definitely daddy’s girl, and had a powerful aversion to frogs.


Then, that very summer, on another sunny afternoon, a frog happened to jump through an open window and got inside the house.  The little girl began screaming, while her mischievous brother tried to catch the frog.


Finally, the father came running, rescued the poor frog, and set it free in the garden.  The little girl never forgot that summer, and her love for her father-champion and for books continued to deepen as the years went by.

That lucky little girl learned more than a few important life lessons that summer.  Among them, the sanctity of all life, including that of an ugly frog, and, because in her young mind, the king in the book got mixed up with her father, both honorable men, she also learned the importance of keeping her word.  Lastly, she learned that under no circumstances whatsoever would she ever eat frog legs.

It was not until much later in life that she finally understood one more lesson from the events of that summer:  Handsome princes come in all shapes and sizes.


In honor of all the wonderful lessons that little girl learned from her father, I’ve prepared a breakfast tray fit for a prince - my Prince, that is.


Featuring FROG Jam!  Have you ever tried it?  It's made from a combination of fruits - Fig, Raspberry, Orange - and Ginger.  Delicious!  It seems the time was just right to crack open that precious jar I'd been saving for a while . . .


I first spotted this lovely tray at More Fun Less Laundry, a blog that has become my primer for beautiful living.  


I looked for it everywhere, because, naturally, it was no longer available, until I finally found it in an obscure website.  


The tray box was a mess, and the tray itself was covered in dust, but I didn't care, I now had my own lily pad tray with frogs, butterflies and flowers!  Perseverance pays.  Oh, I'm going to have such fun with this tray!


A blue and green plaid napkin seemed perfect for both frogs and princes. 


 The leafy napkin ring did, too.


And the tray was brought upstairs to the bedroom, so my children's father could have a grand start to his Father's Day celebration . . .


like the True Prince that he really is.


Happy Father's Day, darling!

Joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A proud mama

A special day for our family:  Our son, John, has graduated!


Here we are, celebrating another milestone in our son's life . . .


 Mama standing in the back, thinking that husband is NOT going to photograph her . . .


Miami University tradition decrees that if you step on the school seal you will fail your next exam.  So, here we are . . .


He couldn't wait to get rid of the cap!


We couldn't be prouder!


And, as all good parents have done many times before, we returned home with our backseat filled with our child's "stuff" as he gets ready to move back in for a little bit while he looks for a job.  I look forward to seeing a new chapter in my son's life as he begins to practice adulthood.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Watermelon Tablescape II

Watermelon:  Sweet . . . juicy . . . yummy. . . what's not to love about this quintessential summer fruit?


And, not only is the fruit delicious, but the color palette that it evokes is so, so summery!  This is my second watermelon tablescape.  I cannot get enough of this fruit, and I love these colors! Click here to take a peek at my earlier post.


I was inspired to try making this centerpiece by some fabulous bloggers:  Michael Lee of Rattlebridge Farms, and Mary of Home is Where the Boat Is.  Please stop by to see their wonderful creations!  You'll know in an instant why I was so enthralled.


Most of the flowers came from Costco, but the hydrangea came from my very own garden!  We just planted them last year, and these came from our very first crop!  Aren't they beautiful?


I added some Queen Anne's Lace, picked up from an empty, undeveloped lot not far from our house.  I always look forward to the appearance of this wild flower.  It's so delicate looking, and makes a great filler for arrangements.  It also helps mark the passing of time.  I know when I begin to spot them that we are in full summer!


All that fruit MUST be put to use.  It would be awful to discard so much deliciousness!  So, one thing that immediately came to mind was . . . MOJITOS!  And I have just the recipe, thanks to Susan at Between Naps on the Porch!


A salad was also an easy (as all summer cooking ought to be) addition to the menu.  This one was composed of field greens, watermelon, Feta cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette.  The salty Feta cheese was perfect on this salad, especially for those, like my huband, who always salt their watermelon.


I should have stayed away from Tenley's everything-must-go-before-I-move-to-Florida-sale.  The cute watermelon salad bowls just begged to come home with me.  What could I do?


We had some unexpected guests show up at the luncheon, but they were so cute and friendly we allowed them to make themselves right at home . . .  What's summer anyway, without a few fluttery friends?


Pink ruled the day, from the petunias growing next to the deck . . .


To the lovely gerbera daisies in the centerpiece . . .


To the pillows that I borrowed from the Living Room sofa . . .


It's not too late to enjoy more watermelon this summer.  Enjoy it while it lasts!  I'm going back for a little more . . .