Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A Few Little Snowflakes

When you are a dish collector, albeit a modest one, you live in fear that the dishes that you've fallen in love with will be discontinued if you don't get them right away.  This was the case for me with the Christmas Snowflake plates that are part of the Lenox Federal Platinum collection.

I had been eyeing them for a couple of years, but one thing or another held me back.  However, this year, it wasn't just the children who came home to mama . . .

I paired them with these pretty Silver Snowflake Napkins from Etsy to keep the theme going . . .

I brought out my wedding water goblets, Chartres by Atlantis, which have Gothic arches cut into its design and when the light is shining just right, they look like big snowflakes.  I said a fervent prayer that no one would accidentally chip one one of these precious goblets.  At the last minute, I decided to pull some back and interjected some of the red goblets because they have such a beautiful, brilliant color, and I wanted more red on the table.

A simple organza bag filled with chocolate kisses was placed by each setting.  This one seems to be a perennial favorite in my family.

Well, here is the table . . .

Our chandelier was blinged out with a combination of Swarovski snowflakes and magnetic crystals from Ballard Designs.  It sparkled beautifully during the night!

But this is the best decoration . . .

I can't remember the last time, we didn't take this group shot.  The guests have varied a little from year to year, as our children have grown up and started their own lives, but always there has been family around our table.

Our tribe has grown with the marriage of my son, bringing Erica, and this lump of sugar named Piper into our lives . . .

From our home to yours, we hope you have the most wonderful Christmas Day!  Blessings!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas with the Angels

Here are my two Golden Angels, a Christmas present from my husband many, many years ago . . .

One holds a lyre . . . 

The second one holds a violin . . . 

Gold seems to be making a comeback after years left out in the wilderness, and it paired perfectly with the Spode Delamere Brown, which I had wanted to use for a Christmas table, instead of always relegating it to Fall tables (next, I'm going to try it on a Spring table).

A few things to notice about our table this year.  It is in fact, a new table.  After a lifetime of using inherited dining room sets, first, my parent's, later my mother-in-law's, I was ready to finally bring my own style to our dining room.  I will always treasure the memories we made on those tables, but it was time for a change.  When I saw that a local Amish furniture gallery was having a sale, I rushed over there and tortured that poor sales lady for days, until I got the design that I wanted.  

I'll write more about my table in the coming days, but I'll just say that the table had just been delivered a mere week earlier, and I had barely had time to play with it, so this was a very exciting day for me!

Even with the splash of Christmas red, the Delamere Brown always brings nature to mind.  These Leaf Christmas tree ornaments were a serendipitous find at Crate and Barrel.  Not only did it bring a touch of nature to the table, but they were gold besides - and everyone got to take one home!

Here is the Oak Leaf . . .  Do you notice the tiny acorn attached?

The Maple Leaf . . .

And the Birch Leaf.  I also brought out the Delamere Woodland flatware, stamped with forest creatures, like quail, ducks and deer . . . Here's a closeup of the forks.  I didn't take many pictures of the flatware this time because I've featured it in a few other posts.  Check out this post in which I used the flatware for the first time.

I walked by the floral department of my local grocery store and spotted these arrangements, which were made perfect after I added a few white roses.  White roses class up any act!

As for the napkins . . . Not only is it “C” for Christmas, but it's also the initial of our last name.  Aren't they beautiful?  I ordered them from Etsy.

The amber goblets are Mikasa French Countryside.  They have now discontinued this color.  I wish I had gotten more of them.

A tired little angel . . .  Sofia, my nephew's daughter . . .

Here is part of the Cheney-Grimón tribe . . .  My son, David was stationed at the time in South Korea, and couldn't be with us.

And one more picture of my family:  My son, John, nephew Kevin, brother Al, and nephew Colin.

And a cardinal in the Christmas tree!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Sunday lunch

We are living through the month of excess.  Everywhere you go there are cookies and hot cocoa.  The office counters are groaning from food that vendors are sending in, or office party potlucks.  You need a will power of mighty proportions to resist all that.  So, at home, we go light:

A wedge salad.  Not a new invention but a rediscovered one:  Iceberg lettuce, crumbled hard-boiled eggs and bacon, and dotted with some blue cheese dressing.  It was light, delicious, and surprisingly filling.

Give it a try!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Memories of Christmas Eve 2014

Regrets, I have a few, and occasionally they can be corrected . . . This is one of them.  I never posted our table on Christmas Eve 2015.  I know, it was eons ago, and we've all moved on.  But I'm seriously thinking of taking down the blog and there are some things I'd like to wrap up.  As I look back, I can't believe I forgot to post this table!  It was so pretty!  Well, if you'll indulge me, here are some pictures:

Ralph Lauren came to the rescue this year when I fell in love with the beautiful floral print in sage green with a splash of pomegranate red.  With a print like that, I didn't have to work very hard at adding other interesting elements to the table.

Maybe just a centerpiece with lots of white roses and a touch of silver.  White roses are among my favorites at any time of the year and they always seem to elevate any table dressing.

And napkins folded à la Fleur de Lis.  My Federal Platinum dishes calmed the table down and provided a little rest for the eyes.

That was as much effort as I was willing to put that year on the table because I was saving my energy for cooking and baking!

Here was the hit of the night:  Crab Cakes on a bed of homemade Sweet Tomato Jam, topped with Arugula lightly dressed in olive oil.  I was in Atlanta this year and I picked up the recipe from the hotel where I was staying.  I couldn't wait to try it out!  But most of my time was spent baking cookies!

Honey Pecan Butterballs and Magic Bars in the background . . .

Peanut butter blossoms . . .

Thumb print cookies . . .

Potato Chip Cookies . . .

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies . . .

I don't often bake these many cookies, there never seems to be enough time.  But 2015 was one for the cookie books!  

Here's the fam . . .  I never get tired of the yearly shot of us all around the dinner table.  My son David wasn't with us this year.  He was gone doing his Army thing and we sorely missed him.  But this year . . . everyone is coming home!  There's a lot of baking in store for me in the days to come.  I am a happy woman!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Living with Lavender

There's an insidious resident in our house which seems to dwell in our drawers and linen closets.  It's not an unwelcomed guest.  In fact, it was invited into our home with open heart, or at least, open nostrils.

Lavender is that scent that makes me feel good, and  allows me to breathe freely.  It's not the only scent that I love, mind you, but this one reminds me of my paternal grandmother's armoire, from which lavender scent wafted, and where she kept a tin of cookies for her grandchildren hidden away so she could dole out the treats in secret.

It was during Spring cleaning this year, when I noticed for the first time the degree to which our house guest had made itself at home.  Well, it might be easier to show you . . .

Lavender is known for its ability to induce sleep and improve its quality.  I thought this would be a nice addition to the Guest Room for our guests who find themselves away from the comforts of their usual surroundings.  The cover is made of a really soft velour and it feels wonderful on the skin.

Have you tried ECOS laundry detergent yet?  It's earth-friendly and cleans beautifully.  There are other fragrances available, and even one without any fragrance at all, but naturally, I was drawn to the lavender scent.

There's lavender-scented soap and lotion in the Powder Room, although this changes throughout the year.  However, it seemed like a perfect scent for Spring - and Williams-Sonoma was having a sale.

Our drawers are full of sachets!  The ones above are a collection of the heart-shaped pink and red ones that I've accumulated over the years.  I wrote about them here.  But there are more . . .

Well, see for yourself . . . I've purchased the sachets here and there, as much for the looks as the scent.  These sweet sachets are proof that little luxuries don't have to cost a fortune.

Just keep an eye out and you'll spot them where you least expect them.  The poupettes (little chicks) are adorable, aren't they?  They make me smile.

Lavender candles have also found a way into the linen closet.  The Dyptique candle is exquisite.  I'm saving it for a special occasion.  The other one is HomeGoods swag.  It smells wonderful.  It's nice having a little candle inventory.

How does the saying go, “In for a penny, in for a pound?”  Why not try lavender tea?  I fixed myself a pretty tea tray using the Nantucket teapot and teacup.  The basketweave pattern puts me in mind of a country setting with buzzing bees and lavender growing wild.

Bees love lavender in bloom, and they make a delicious honey by pollinating the lavender flowers.  It seemed right to bring them out to hover over the lavender-embroidered napkins.

The napkins were an Etsy find and I adore them!  They're begging for a tea party . . .

So I baked a new tea bread:  Downton Abbey Lavender Tea Bread.  Yes, I'm still pining for Downton . . .

It wasn't bad, but I've decided I prefer my lavender as a scent throughout the house, rather than in my food.  I couldn't separate the taste from the scent in my linen closet.  Here is the recipe, if you'd like to try it.  It was . . . unusual.

There are many other scents that I love, like the smell of fresh oranges . . . cinnamon in the kitchen . . . . a fragrant Christmas tree.  We'll talk more about those another day.

What about you?  What scents run through your house?  Do you like lavender?  Do you do Spring cleaning?  Are you pining for Downton Abbey?  Tell me anything at all.  I'd love to hear from you!