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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Blues Table for Five (Recipes!)

I have been dying to use this TJ Maxx tablecloth for something pretty on the porch, but the pollen and weather are not cooperating. I was too impatient to wait, so tonight we dined on new thrifty finds in the kitchen.

Oh, where to start?

Well, the bargain on the table is the sherberts. I found them on eBay for less than $1 a piece! I can't even believe I almost passed them up! 

And the china was another eBay find. It is the Carlotta pattern made by Eternal Stone.  While it wasn't quite the deal of a $1 per piece, it was still a bargain. 

There is some crazing on a few pieces, but I adore the pattern and the two shades of blue. It is at least 75 years old and so chic! I love, love, love the way it looks with the sherberts and blue in the tablecloth! 

I could kick myself for not buying napkins in Homegoods that would have matched! I am one of those shoppers who (sometimes but not often enough) walks around with all the things I want, and gradually put most of them back only to regret it later! Do you do that, too?

The tablecloth is a good example of that very thing. I found four placemats and a runner in this same pattern at a TJ Maxx in Atlanta, walked around with them, and decided I didn't want just four placements. I left them there only to find the tablecloth in a different TJ Maxx a week later. This time, leaving the first stash behind was a good decision!

The Azaleas in the ice bucket are from the yard. I have one plant with a few flowers. The rest are still budding. The other green comes from camellia and honeysuckle leaves.

So, what's the menu?

Cocktail Shrimp

Frozen and thawed from the supermarket (easy recipe, huh?)
Serve with dipping sauces

Mandarin Orange Salad

1 head of lettuce, washed and torn
4-5 green onions, chopped fine
3 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 11oz can mandarin oranges
Combine and chill.

1/4 vegetable oil
1 T white vinegar
5 drops hot sauce
2 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

1/2 c slivered almonds
2-3T sugar
Caramelize on stove. Spread on wax paper to dry. Can be stored in an airtight container for a snack.

Combine salad and dressing. Toss. Top with almonds. Mmmmm. :)

Easiest Poppyseed Chicken

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1-2 lb of shredded or cut up chicken, whatever you have on hand
1 can of mushroom soup (10 3/4 oz)
8 oz sour cream
1/4 c. milk
Combine so that the chicken is covered, even if just barely.

Place 1-2 stacks of Ritz crackers in a freezer bag and crush
add 1 stick of melted butter or margarine
add 2 T poppy seeds (if you have them)

Spread over chicken mixture.

Bake until bubbly, (about 30 minutes).

Easy Rice Pilaf

Prepare 3 c. quick rice.

Melt a tablespoon or so of butter in a large skillet.
Add 1/2 c. green onions (chopped), 1/3 c. slivered almonds,  and 1 crushed clove of garlic.

When almonds are lightly browned (3-5 minutes), add rice and seasonings to taste such as salt, pepper, thyme, etc. Blend and serve.

I also served a can of corn. Another easy recipe. :)


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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Anniversary Musings

My husband and I celebrated our anniversary last week. After looking at this photograph, I think you can understand why I chose him!!

I have mentioned in several blogs that he is a “keeper”. My gift from him this year was a new china cabinet. It was meant to help me find more storage for my ever-expanding collection of china and linens. We ordered it from North Carolina and it arrived earlier than expected. Perhaps, you have already noticed it in a couple of recent blogs.
Most of the wedding gifts that we received long ago are still being used today! We were so fortunate that our family and friends gave us pieces that have stood the test of time. The only things that I can remember that we eventually gave away were some melamine dishes, which I believe are now becoming popular, again. Who knew??
One of my favorite gifts that we received was from my Aunt Mable (yes, she spells it that way!). I wrote in my Valentine’s blog about my husband’s and my decision to marry much more quickly than we had originally planned. We were both in college some distance away from one another and thought it would be easier for us to be in the same place. We married in a month and gave my poor mother almost no time to plan. Obviously, we had a small wedding.

The Christmas before we made that Valentine’s Day decision to marry in March, I had visited my aunt. We were searching for treasures in an antique shop (she, too, loves old beautiful things) and I spotted a darling chintzware coffee demitasse set. As I was already engaged, but thought the wedding was some years down the road, I jokingly told my aunt that when I did get married, I would love to receive the coffee set. Then, I completely forgot about it.
Of course, you have already guessed what happened! My aunt did not forget and the coffee set found its way to me on my wedding day. What a thoughtful and wonderful surprise!!

I had the pieces for many years, when I discovered a matching condiment set at an antique show. It consisted of a tray with salt and pepper shakers and a jam pot with a tiny sterling spoon. The chintz pattern is “Devon Rose” by Royal Crown China.

My sister contributed the “Virginia Carvel” sterling demitasse spoons.

After putting the china cabinet in place, my husband suggested moving our old dining room buffet to our study. It works perfectly there and makes a wonderful “tabletop” to serve after dinner coffee and showcase my “Devon Rose” demitasse set.

I began by using a white on white embroidered placemat, which was a Tuesday Morning find.

Is there anything more beautiful than white on white embroidery?

I, also, used white on white cocktail napkins. I bought these at a wonderful store that has been out of business for years. I still miss finding treasures there!

The creamer and sugar were set on the condiment tray and I surrounded them with the coffee pot, demitasse cups and saucers.

For an after dinner chocolate treat, I melted white chocolate and drizzled it onto Hershey’s chocolate nugget with almond candies - half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate. What could be easier than that?

I served them in a tiny bowl that was originally my mother’s. I do not know the name of the pattern, but I plan on doing some research, after using it here. The bowl is so pretty that I think there must be more pieces available somewhere.

I love the way my old Mikasa glass candlesticks repeat the vertical lines in the little bowl. Candlelight is an absolutely must for after dinner coffee!

I always enjoy celebrating our anniversary. We are getting older, but marking the day reminds me that we have somehow traveled through this life together and made it work. In today’s crazy world, I think that is a real accomplishment!

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rose Chintz and Baseball Season

This morning is a ball park morning. I got up early, made breakfast, running around the kitchen plating one thing at a time as it was ready: pancakes, cheese eggs, grits, bacon, refills of juice and milk. I sent up children to get dressed, brush teeth, and brush hair. I ran up upstairs to find misplaced cleats. I ran back down to help locate hats and ballbags. I rushed everyone out the door with their dad for pre-game practice, only to realize I had never eaten my breakfast!

So I decided to take a little while to enjoy it since the games don't start for another hour! I made a little breakfast tray, adding the potpourri from my earlier post here.

Until recently, I shied away from a lot of pinks and pastels on the table. But, I have fallen in love with the Rose Chintz pattern by Johnson Bros.  I found four dinner plates at TJ Maxx for 3$ each. Whoo hoo! (I have 24 snack plates, too. You can see them in my daughter's post here. They are a very unusual shape. To die for!) Here I am using the dinner plate with my Fortecrisa pink swirl glass dinner and salad plates. The glass plates are a little smaller, more like the size of a luncheon and a bread and butter, so it's a perfect fit!

Old Master by Towle.

A sterling goblet.

A sterling sherbert with potourri.

And a rose napkin! I will post a tutorial ASAP, but the ballfields are calling!

 All in all, it was really nice to take a breather. Now I have to run to the ball field and cheer on the Cardinals and the Screamers! This is my favorite time of year!

And later that day...

My littlest at bat getting ready to make the first hit of her game, and my middle one at the fence cheering his sister on. I love ball season. :)

Happy Saturday!


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Friday, March 25, 2011

A Brunch for Marnie and Megan

I used to have four American Girl dolls, but I didn't really play with them, and my mom gave them and all their things to Goodwill.  When my little sister wanted one, she wanted me to get a new one so they could play together. And so I did.

Meet Marnie and Megan. When my mom thought up the idea for this blog, I had planned on using the American Girl dolls for my tablescapes, but I actually have a lot more real dinnerware that I do doll dinnerware. Lately, we have been trying to find antique items that can be used as doll items. Trying to buy the vintage doll items has been more difficult. When my grandmother tried to purchase an antique doll-sized punch bowl set online, the seller refunded her money saying that it had already sold. I think I really would like to collect miniature fine china and things like that, though. I am just really picky about what I want. So, we are still looking.

We do have enough, though, for a first doll post! I have finally put together a brunch for Marnie and Megan. I think that is just what these two American girls need! Sleeping in, then come down to eat at a gorgeous table in your pyjamas? What more could you ask for? I have been really sick this year, but lately I have gotten that special treatment more than once. And I love it! I really want to go back to school, but I will miss it!

As far as my dolls go, they now have a lovely blue, flowered table cloth on their picnic table. (This is just a cloth napkin.) I have two little blue flowery butter pats they are using as plates. My mom has had these since high school. [Insert mom comment: These are an Alfed Meakin pattern dating before 1897. I would love to know what it is!]

The girls have two amazing Heisey glasses in the Colonial pattern.  They are actually part of an adult set that was made up until 1907, but they fit the girls perfectly! A good way to serve some orange juice...

I am using two sterling silver salt spoons in my mom's pattern as regular spoons for their apple sauce. The apple sauce and the croissant are part of an American Girl lunch box set! 

 The sterling salt shakers are an adult individual set, but I think they look great on this table in case the girls need to season their sandwiches.

In their p.j's., these two American girls had a tasty little brunch. They both ate all of their food because it was so good, and how lucky they are to have such fine things! My sister and I were very proud of them! (Thanks, Mom and Nana!)


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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Fiercer Than Fierceness Itself"

As I was posting my Saint Patrick’s Day blog and sharing my Scotch-Irish roots, I starting thinking about my Scottish Heritage. My great-grandmother was a Cameron. I have traced her family back to her grandfather, Ambrose Cameron, who was in Georgia in 1790s. I have no idea if he came directly from Scotland or his family immigrated to Ireland first. It really does not matter, because either way, I am a member of Clan Cameron!

I traveled to Scotland many years ago and visited several locations, including Edinburgh.
I was helping “stand guard” in front of Edinburgh Castle.

My big dream is to some day explore the Highlands of Scotland and see the Cameron lands and Archnacarry Castle, which is the home of the present day Chief of the Clan.

Through the years, I have collected many Scottish treasures and display them throughout my house.
They decorate my walls:

Here are Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace.

Crests of important cities

Laid of Grant and his son

My favorite is a painting of a member of Clan Cameron, which was a surprise Christmas gift from my husband many years ago.

Many treasures are on displayed on side tables:

This small box was purchased at a local antique store.

These charming figurines are reproductions, but I love them anyway!

The wee Edinburgh Castle came from Scotland.

Some treasures help educate me about all things Scottish – books and more books!

My Scottish treasures are sometimes used on my dining tables:

The “Cameron” tablecloth is from Crate and Barrel.

An Edinburgh crystal bowl – a much-loved gift from my husband.

Two Meakin plates:

One is from Alfred Meakin and is the “Edinburgh” pattern.

The other darling one is from J&G Meakin. It is the “Prince Charlie” pattern. I have seen only three others like it on the internet. One is in Australia, one is in New Zealand and the other one is in the US. I bought mine at an antique show in Leslie, Georgia. I would love to find a whole set of these!

The blanket keeps me warm on chilly days. I found it in a “Scottish Woollen” store on Princes Street in Edinburgh. It is the Cameron of Erracht pattern, which is the tartan of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders military regiment.

I wear this clan pin on my jackets and coats in the winter.

My son wore this tiny Cameron of Lochiel tartan bow tie, when he was very small.

Two of these Scottish Santas from Horchow guard my mantle at Christmas time. I love the details of his kilt, bagpipe and sporran!

I hope that my ancestors would be happy that I am trying to keep my Scottish heritage alive. The Cameron war cry is “Sons of the hounds, come here and get flesh”. They sound like serious warriors, don't they? I think I prefer the motto on my crest badge, “Aonaibh ri cheile” (Unite) to pass on to my children and grandchildren. What could be better than a united family!
Have you started researching your family heritage? A complete family history is a wonderful gift to leave to your descendants. Perhaps, you will find a “fierce” ancestor in your family tree. Happy hunting!

“Here’s tae the health, the hill and the heather
The bonnet, the plaid, the kilt and the feather”
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