Sunday, January 1, 2017

Welcoming January

What better way is there to welcome January than with a riot of mini carnations, the January birth flower - my birth flower, in garnet (birthstone) red?


In the language of flowers dark red carnations signify deep love and affection.  I dedicate them to you, my friends and fellow bloggers, with sincerest regard.


May the new year bring you love.  In the end, isn't that all that matters?

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Very Grinch-y Christmas Eve

The prospect of my great-nephew, Oliver, coming to our home on Christmas Eve made me giddy with excitement.  I enjoy my family and love to be surrounded by them, not only during the holidays, but all throughout the year.  However, having a child in the house at Christmas, well, that's just too special, and I was not about to let this opportunity to play slip through my fingers!


The plans began to take shape when, on a very ordinary trip to Costco, I found the ribbon that became the inspiration for the table.  Glittery polka dots in red and green made me think of Dr. Seuss and The Grinch.  The very stories that were beginning to interest Oliver!


Did you know that the animated version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year?  I did not know this at first, but I wonder if subliminal messages from marketers and the media didn't work their way into my subconscious as I made my plans.  Maybe my finding that ribbon at Costco wasn't coincidental at all!

Regardless, it was a jolly theme, and so . . . a tablescape was born!


But first, the house had to be Grinch-ified.  The kitchen . . .


Then, the Dining Room . . .


The stairs . . .


And, yes, the mantle, too . . .  


Even the tree received a dose of Grinch-iness!


With lots of green and red sparkle, and tings, and glittery ornaments!


The door was made merry . . .


And, although not particularly Grinchy, tartan was deployed throughout the house, because . . . it just isn't Christmas without it!


Cozy pillows, too . . .


There's nothing more soothing than a white tablecloth to anchor a great table setting and to let other colors take center stage, so that became the starting point. 


A dear friend designed the menu cards in the round, then I had them printed and cut by a local printer.


Who would have imagined that pink would work so well at Christmas?  It was an unexpected, but very welcome addition to the table.  This pink lover thoroughly approved.


The Grinch-y napkins were such fun to have and added so much to the theme!  I'll probably never use them again, but it's difficult to regret buying them when I remember the big smiles they elicited.


For those who do not speak Who-ish, let me translate the menu for you:  Cindy-Lou Who Salad (Romaine, dried cranberries, apple and pecans with an herbed balsamic vinaigrette), Roast Beast (Beef tenderloin roast, au jus), Who Mash (Mashed Potatoes), Winter Vegetable Medley (Roasted butternut squash and Brussels Sprouts with garlic and olive oil), Grinch Beans Amandine (Green Beans Amandine).

The desserts, I remembered to photograph:  Who Pudding Trio:  Vanilla (my mother's Vanilla Custard), Chocolate (with Rumchata and Godiva Chocolate liqueurs), and Raspberry Fool - more pink! (a classic raspberry fool with a splash of Chambord).


Mt. Crumpit Cupcakes - chocolate peppermint and eggnog.


Who-ville cookies (assorted Christmas cookies, including green almond cookies, with a little Grinch-y heart in its center) . . .


And some macarons, Pistachio, Red Velvet, Strawberry, and Champagne . . .


A little present to remember this Grinch-y night was placed at each place setting . . .


A glass heart to hang on the tree . . .


And remind us all of the possibilities for love . . .


I hope you were able to share Christmas with your very own Whos, and that the Grinch of your acquaintance (we all know one) was tamed, at least for the day.  God bless!

Joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday and Michael Lee at Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday and Everything Else - New Year's Party.  Stop in and join the fun!

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 Mediterranean . . .


Then it's 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.