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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Outdated Kitchens Can Be Pretty, Too - Advice and recipes on the cheap

It's hard to decide to redo a part of your house. But sometimes it's harder to decide not to! Most of my house is not my taste, but it's in good shape and not worth the expense and inconvenience of a change - yet.  I can work with it most days!  

My kitchen is has a 1980's casual country look to it, with the country blue and cream wallpaper patterns and stained moulding. (You can also call it molding. Theodore Roosevelt tried to reform spelling in American English without much luck, but this was one of the words he had some success with, leaving us all confused! More here:  The stain is a maple color, and most of the furniture in my house is cherry or mahogany. The flowers on the cream paper above the chair rail have blues, greens, tans, and peach. I am drawn to the bright or the simple, but pastels are not generally my "thing." Think Mondrian, not Turner.  So this kitchen has been an interesting struggle. 

The biggest trick I have learned is to almost match the kitchen. I refuse to buy a houseful of country blue and peach plates! One set is plenty! I have tried to find other things that almost match, though, with my tableware, linens, and even the furniture. The cupboard and the table are of a darker stain than the moulding, but they blend because they are simple. I have mixed some of my most formal china and my everyday china on the shelves.  One big bonus with the china is that it is white rather than cream. While there were white Battenburg curtains in my kitchen when we moved here, there is no white in my kitchen now. But rest assured, white is welcome anywhere! The white curtains were too much mismatch for everyday, but the china pulls the white in. It makes it easier to set the table with white. The cookbooks lined up at the bottom are very casual and full of color. Of course, that is more of a necessity rather than a design decision. 

The antique chairs to the side of the cupboard are covered in a really nice fabric that I found years ago at a discount outlet. These chairs are my previous breakfast chairs. That table is in the attic, but the chairs are scattered all over the house. The flame-stitched fabric matches everything! The colors are fine in the kitchen, but the fabric is a little dressier. I like the juxtaposition. It pulls the kitchen towards a little formality.
All of these components can be used to change the look of my kitchen. I can put anything in the cupboard to  emphasize certain colors. I could put more green cookbooks out, for instance, for a green table. Slip covers could be added to the chairs or they could be moved out of the kitchen and replaced with other side chairs.

As far as the table goes, the wood is lovely. I keep a glass top because I have children who need that surface for painting, gluing, and messy eating. The chairs are simple. Like the changes I could make to the cupboard and side chairs, I can add slip covers or pillows to the chairs. The glass dresses up the space a bit merely because of the reflection of light. And you can add a tablecloth over or under the glass. You can also place items under the glass for decoration: post cards, black and white pictures, posters, Christmas cards, etc. Sometimes I put a rug down under the table, too, but it is easier to clean up when I don't! I have several, most purchased from places like Kmart, Walmart, and TJ Maxx. I am always on the lookout for a bargain. 
By using the eclectic background, I can actually set a pink and white table in my country blue and peach kitchen! 

This table was a ridiculous bargain: Big Lots, eBay, Dollar Tree, Target, and antique shows were my sources. The ramekins are from Target. They were $2.00 each.

The pink glass plates and glasses were eBay treasures. The vintage glasses were made by the well-known Arcoroc company in France and were $14.99 for a set of 6. The vintage plates are actually a similar pattern, Fortecrisa, made in Mexico. The dinner plates were $10.00 for a set of four, and the salad plates were $18.00 for a set of eight. I found an extra set of dinner plates for $13.00. So I have eight of each. I also found two extra glasses for $5.99. The glass plates are a little smaller than average, so I am able to layer them on a standard dinner plate. Layering the plates creates different shades of pink. The dinner plate alone looks more like the color in the wall paper.

You may notice the underside of the khaki place mats. They are green on the other side and completely reversible. There wasn't even a tag to cut off in the seam. Perfect! Big Lots. $1.50 each.

And my beloved Dollar Tree plates. $1.00 each. :)

The sterling is Old Master by Towle. It is a very popular pattern; you can always find pieces at antique shows. The delicate flower pattern definitely works in my kitchen, pulling it towards elegance. Nearly all of these pieces were from estate sales. These pieces belong to my youngest daughter. She gets a piece or two for every big event - birthdays, holidays, promotion at the end of every year. In second grade, she has more of her own silver than I did when I got married!  

Her knives can be a little hard to find. They are the French blade rather than the modern blade. A good explanation of knife differences can be found here:
Another antique find is the cupcake server. I have chosen to emphasize pink by using Camellia blossoms from my front yard. Flowers go a long way in adding color to a space. 

The napkins are vintage and belonged to my mother. She gave them to me with a matching tablecloth when her tables were too large for the tablecloth. Lucky me!

In honor of the ramekins, I will share a some recipes that use ramekins. I adore ramekins and am always looking for a way to use them. They often are filled with fresh fruit or pudding or fast and easy sides.  But sometimes, it is worth it to go the extra mile!

Mock Panera Breakfast Souffl├ęs 
(You can Google this and find many good ones!)

Preparation Time: 20 minutes 
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients (6 people):

1 pkg Pepperidge Farm Pastry Sheets
Cheddar Cheese - finely shredded
7 eggs
2 1/4 cups half n half
dash pepper and salt
6 large ramekins

How to Make It:

Preheat oven 375.
1. Thaw pastry sheets & cook about 6-8 slices of bacon to crispy.
2. Unfold and cut longways along fold seam then cut each third in half giving you 6 rectangular pieces per sheet or 12 total.
3. Using two pieces of pastry sheet, make shell in tart pan with four corners hanging outside each pan and working seam together along bottom of pan (once egg mixture is in shell you'll gently fold corners over toward the center). 
4. Put tart pans on cookie tray.
5. Break up the bacon into small pieces and sprinkle on bottom of each shell; cover with shredded cheese, (I didn't measure just reached in bag grabbed some with my fingers...1 big grab of cheese suffices).
6. Scramble eggs, half 'n' half and add dash pepper/salt.
7. Pour egg mixture into something with a spout (Pyrex measuring cup) so you can pour gently into each shell.
8. Pour mixture up to top of shell, fold corners over toward middle of tart.
9. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes till golden brown.

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Preparation Time: 15 minutes 
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (4 people):

6 oz. Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate (or use your favorite 70% dark chocolate bar)
6 oz. Butter (diced, room temperature)
3 Eggs
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 cup Flour
Butter for Ramekins

How to Make It:

Preheat oven to 350°F
1. Melt chocolate on low flame in a bain-marie (double boiler). When melted, take of flame, and…
2. Stir in diced butter, until it melts.
3. In another bowl, beat eggs and sugar, until it starts to whiten.
4. Stir in melted chocolate and then the flour.
5. Butter 4 individual ramekins, and pour in chocolate batter.
6. Cook for about 10 minutes.
7. You can tip ramekins upside down onto dessert plates and serve. You can serve them in the ramekins as well.

Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy!


  1. Love your delicate pink dishes and your napkins!! If you're happy with your kitchen, don't remodel it. I suffered through a kitchen remodel five years ago and I'm not in a hurry to do it again!!

  2. How pretty your pink tablescape is. I have to strip some wallpaper that I've "lived" with for almost 20 years! It's gotta go!

  3. Andrea, this looks like something out of a magazine. I need to give more thought to pieces I have and putting together something pretty. Thanks for creating this blog. Each entry inspires me!

  4. Love this table. I love pink and those are some lovely plates and goblets! Thanks for joining JFF this week.

  5. WOW..lots of things there I am swooning over!..Your stemware is so pretty & your daughters silver service...lucky little girl!

  6. Beautiful tablescape. I love your hutch with all the blue. ~~Sherry~~

  7. It sounds like you are doing a good job making things work in your home. I would love to have your pink glassware. It would be lovely on the table I am preparing for tomorrow night!

  8. I just happened upon your blog, as those things go and loved seeing the pink dishes as I believe I have had the same ones for probably 25 years or more. I found them at Kmart years ago to add to my depression glass collection--it was a dessert set and needed dinner plates. I did enjoy reading how you are using your kitchen as it is and working with it. It looks lovely. I am realizing more and more that we don't have to have the latest, especially in these economic times! Nice "meeting" you!

  9. I just love your sterling pattern and the pink vintage stemware! Your table looks great! I believe I have some linen napkins exactly like those; they really help make a pretty table, don't they? I know what you mean about making do with a kitchen that is not to your taste. I've been doing that for the last 15 years now. Have a great weekend!


  10. I love your pink vintage glass and what a deal you got on it. Very pretty.

  11. Love the depression glass, and how you have decided to work with what you have!

  12. I love your entire tablescape! So pretty for the season too! I'm visiting and now following you (found you at Pink Saturdays). I hope that you stop by my blog and add this post to my Seasonal Saturday get together too! Lovely! Roz at la bella vita

  13. Pretty pink dishes; the underplate white makes them stand out. Lovely posting.

  14. A pretty tablescape and recipes to boot~I am lovin' it!

  15. My aunt, in Sweden, would send us sterling silver every year. Now I almost have a full set. Silver was down the year my sister got married so she has the full set. One day, I'll have a full set, till then they sit in my daughter's hope chest since it has a lock.

    Thanks for sharing your unique and informative blog post.

  16. Oh this is so romantic and beautiful. Happy Pink Saturday, Char

  17. This is a very pretty tablescape. I love the centerpiece with the flowers in the tiered tray. That was a good idea. It is all very elegant. Thank you for linking up!

  18. Happy Pink Saturday!

    Great pink table setting!

    ~ Gabriela ~

  19. I LOVE your kitchen.

    The dishes are beautiful. They remind me of depression glass - - - but more upscale.

  20. Happy sweet and sugary Pink Saturday...God Bless you and keep you this week...

  21. Kitchens of all styles can work. Love the pink plates. Thanks so much for being a part of Seasonal Sundays.

    - The Tablescaper

  22. What a pretty table you have created with so many wonderful bargains. Love that stemware. Old Master was my choice when we married, and I still love it. Love the way you put the flowers on the tierd server. Thank you for linking to Favorite Things.

  23. I like the idea of changing the room's decor, like accessorizing! The glasses are gorgeous!

  24. Thanks for sharing.

    Happy Blue Monday.

  25. Hi Andrea...

    What a wonderful post, my friend! Thank you so much for sharing it with us for the Sunday Favorites repost party this week!

    I just thought your post was sooo interesting! Loved how you shared about changing out colors, etc. in your beautiful dining room! I think it's awesome...and what fun! To think that you can just change a few accessories, etc. for an entirely different look is sooo awesome! I really enjoyed this beautiful vintage pink table that you set! The pink glassware is gorgeous! Sooo pretty!!! Again...thank you for joining in with the fun of Sunday Favorites!

    Have a wonderful week!
    Chari @Happy To Design

  26. You have created a very pretty tablescape with your bargain finds.

    ~ Tracy

  27. Lovely tablescape. I love you pink glass dishes. You silverware is beautiful. Thanks for telling about everything. (And the recipes!)

  28. What a beautiful tablescape!! I love the silver and your sweet pink dishes! Just gorgeous- thank you for sharing at FNF! :)

  29. Wow. Elegance and deliciousness in one post!
    Mary Ann

  30. I love the way you think. Not changing things canbe just as interesting...and you have certainly learned your way around a tablescape that makes your whole kitchen shine.

    I love the simple mix of texture and color you have here. Although I often admire the fancy tablescapes this is more up my alley of reality.

    Thanks for linking.

    This was wonderful.


  31. Loved your pink and white tablescape.
    I love that peachy pink color, so pretty and the table looks very pretty. Nice combination of everything you used. I agree with you we can many times work with what we have and make it look great, which you sure show here.
    Have a great day tomorrow,
    Blessings, Nellie


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