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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sans Souci at Christmas

So... The stockings progressed until I realized the fabric was too short to finish the pattern. I am changing the pattern so I can finish them, and they'll be ready for Christmas 2014!

In the meantime, we've been getting the house ready for the holidays. It is a lot easier without a wedding at home the same week!

Emma is landing in the next ten minutes or so coming home from boarding school. She spent some time at Princeton this fall for a model UN conference, which explains her text before she boarded the plane:

Hope you are as excited about the holidays as I am!


Andrea, Steve, and family

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


For years, I have wanted to make cross-stitched stockings. I am finally doing it. Hopefully the end product will look like this: 

I plan to back it in this candystripe fabric and line it with white.

I know I started late. But the first 8 hours has only yielded this much!

I am really excited, though! My youngest daughter, Ava, is very craft-oriented. She has decided to cross-stitch ornaments for her teachers. 

Will keep you posted on the progress!

Andrea, Steve, & Family

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Curried Fruit

1/2 c. butter
1 c. light brown sugar
2 tsp. curry powder
canned fruit: halved pears, peaches, pineapple slices, maraschino cherries
fresh fruit (optional): prunes, plums, or apples

Drain and dry fruit as much as possible. Heat butter, sugar, and curry. Arrange fruit in baking dish and cover with butter mixture. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.


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Friday, November 29, 2013

A Thanksgiving to Be Thankful For

Our home has become the gathering place now every Thanksgiving - and we love it. I have to say, we were more ambitious than last year, but somehow, the prep work, cooking, and cleaning were much easier. When your helper actually lives in the same house, it makes for much more effective teamwork. 

Being a "Southern" family, our traditional foods are things like turkey, ham, dressing/stuffing, sweet potato casserole, pistachio-gelatin salad (with marshmallows and pecans), roasted potatoes or mashed potatoes, copper carrots, green beans, etc. That being said, we did something a little different this year. I decided to change the recipes a little and then make some very traditional dishes that even predate the era of "company chicken" and the "Seven Layer Salad." Everyone who asked what they could bring was assigned a dessert except for my aunt. I asked her to find good (not soupy) Brunswick stew. And she delivered!

Green beans, creamed mushrooms with lemon and tarragon, Steve's maple amaretto agave carrots, and black-eyed peas

Brunswick stew, broccoli salad, curried fruit, and a ginger beer and lime gelatin fruit salad

Turkey, cured and baked hams, three sauces, and gravy

Steve's delicious lemon turkey

Green bean casserole - but made with all fresh ingredients - no cans were opened for this dish

Sweet potatoes in a shallot and white wine sauce with bacon and parsley

Traditional broccoli salad

From scratch cranberry sauce with not much sugar - red grapes add the sweetness

Four cheese mac-n-cheese, sharp cheddar, Gruyère, parmesan, and Fontina - with a hint of nutmeg

My favorite dish - cornbread dressing with sausage, apple, pear, raisins and walnuts. Holy cow, this was good!

Corn pudding

Desserts brought included a caramel cake, traditional pecan pie, brownies, and sugared cereal like White Trash, but with chocolate. YUMMY!

I went with a brown toile pattern last year, J & G Meakin's Americana:

So this year, seating 16 in the dining room, breakfast nook, and library, I went with Royal Stafford's black toile Blacksmith's Forge in the dining room and Churchill Blue Willow in the nook and library:

I used Mikasa Richelieu iced beverage glasses everywhere and all manner of sterling patterns, depending on purpose and location. Sir Christopher by Wallace framed the settings in the dining room and nook. Old Master by Towle complemented the lower key space of the library. Both were using for serving dishes, and they were augmented by pieces in Francis I by Reed & Barton, Apollo by Alvin, Old Atlanta by Wallace, and Imperial Queen by Whiting.

My breakfast today included a piece of the sausage-fruit dressing and curried fruit.

Will share recipes in subsequent posts! They are worth it! I lucked out with my choices, and even though it's only one day later, the leftovers are almost gone!

Andrea, Steve, and family

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Homemade Wedding

As you may have read on our, "We're Back!" blog, Steve and I were married last year in our new home in the stunning new library he built for me.

I know I made it sound like a bit of a whirlwind year, but it was actually more like a hurricane. Steve asked me to marry him in October. Because we lived two hours apart at the time and we were pushing 40, we wondered, why wait? Steve quoted when Harry Met Sally, "[W]hen you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." I had to agree with him. He's a smart guy.

By mid-November, we had considered and reconsidered every combination of time, money, housing, kid impact, etc., from waiting two years to eloping at the county courthouse. Eventually, we decided on December 21 and a solution that sounded like something from game of Clue: Steve and Andrea, in the library, with a Justice of the Peace. 

There was something a little defiant and utterly hilarious to us in the impending faux Mayan calendar doom predictions for that date. There was also something romantic about marrying on the winter solstice, as well. It was wonderful to begin the first day of the return of the sun as man and wife. I know it sounds sort of overly poetic, but it was actually very special. And, it was a time when the children would be with us. We asked a good friend or two to join us. We let some other family and friends know what we were up to, and pretty soon, we had a guest list of nearly 20. And that requires cleaning, food, an actual wedding dress and suit, and a plan!

And it was weeks away. We had just hosted our first Thanksgiving at the house. 

Steve's turkey. This man can seriously cook. We'll be doing a post on his amazing dressing for this thing. It was unreal. Sausage. Craisins. De.Li.Cious.

We had traveled to Maryland to get our daughter and her good friend, an exchange student from Germany. Also, my mom and I had driven them back after the holidays. Christmas was around the corner, and her friend would be coming home for the two weeks around the holidays. We had a multi-performance mid-year dance recital for our other daughter. Steve had a business trip to California. He also wanted to surprise me with a wedding gift of a trip, which he knew about, but I didn't, so I had nothing to work with plan-wise. And I ended up meeting him in California for a day after all and visiting with a high school friend, too. I was promoted at work and had to move offices and job responsibilities the first of December. We bought the puppies as a wedding present from Steve to the children. Oh yeah, and Steve had to move in. It was just a wild, wild ride.

Steve's surprise wedding trip for me was to a live performance of Louis C.K. I was told to pack and head to the car. We drove to dinner almost two hours away. I had no idea why we were in Athens until after dinner, and we were standing in line. Steve handed me the ticket envelope. I know Louis C.K. has a bit of a dirty mouth, but oh-my-goodness, he is hilarious. And it was on my bucket list to see him live for years. If you don't know who he is and want to see a clean example of his humor, there is a clip online where he is talking to Conan O'Brien. Hysterical. Starting at about two minutes in is just priceless.

My wedding gift to Steve was also a surprise. When he asked me to marry him, he said he felt like he had found home for the first time since he was a child. That meant so much to me because I hadn't felt like I had a real home in so long, too. If you read our other post about naming the house Sans Souci and the importance of making it a real home, and you know Steve is actually from Bermuda, relocating here for college twenty years ago. A wedding gift with the theme of home made perfect sense.

The coordinates on the compass are those of Sans Souci.

Needless to say, we were able to pull off the wedding. And except for the wedding cake, which my mom ordered from Publix and delivered for us the day of the wedding, and the gift of the fruit cake cookies, we did everything ourselves. It was very laid back - a small gathering for a few close friends and family and the children, at home in a room my husband built for me. We were picking up tailored clothes and dropping off dogs at the kennel the morning of the wedding. We were cooking and cleaning and vacuuming and dusting in the afternoon. We were getting the kids dressed appropriately and putting on our duds at the last minute. We set up the cake and champagne in the kitchen and bar, and the hors d'oeuvres were in the dining room. I made lemon squares, fudge, peanut butter and white chocolate Ritz cookies, mini quiches, egg rolls, and fruit dip. A friend brought fruit cake cookies, which were actually the hit of the food table. I bought snack mix and fresh fruit at the grocery store, and cheese straws and Mexican wedding cookies from the local bakery. I was able to use my gazillion Holiday by Lenox plates and serving pieces. That was exciting! We also had beautiful flowers around the house that had arrived as gifts from friends and family.

There is a special story about this cake knife. Somehow, Steve and I had gotten into a culinary and dining discussion on our first date, and Steve said he didn't know what strawberry spoons were. By our second date, I had found some that were in the Old Atlanta pattern by Wallace as a gift. I thought that was a great pattern as an ex-pat who lived in Atlanta. (He had brought me season one of "Big Bang Theory" as a gift on our first blind date. That was hard to top!) My mom gave us this cake knife as part of our wedding present in the Old Atlanta pattern. I guess I have a new pattern to start collecting!

We bought small boxes of Christmas cookies and sweets to give as gifts to our guests. We also placed them on the dining table as decorations.

I had to run out at the last minute and get a new doormat with the new last initial!

Around 6:30, guests began to arrive, and by 7:15 pm, we were hitched. We wrote our own vows and got a little tickled when reciting them, and so did our friends and family. Even our judge laughed during our vows. It was a happy, happy night. So relaxed, unhurried, and intimate. I can't imagine a sweeter way to promise the rest of your life to the person you love.

From me to Steve:

I promise to love and cherish you and our relationship.
I promise to be your partner in life and to work towards goals that we decide on together.
I promise to contribute to making a living as well as making a life for us.
I promise to be honest, to be available and faithful, and to treat you with kindness, respect, appreciation and silliness.
I promise to be your primary source of support, comfort, and nurturing and let you be my primary source of the same.
I promise to participate in our relationship, working to communicate my ideas and feelings and to understand your ideas and feelings.
I promise to be flexible and open.
I promise to be optimistic and passionate.
I promise to make pie crusts and banana pancakes.
I promise to sing.
I promise to build a fantastic marriage with you.
In the presence of our friends and family, I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward for as long as we both shall live.

From Steve to me:

I promise to put our relationship and our partnership above all else.
I promise to support you in all you do.
I promise to always play car games with you.
I promise to work as hard as I can to contribute to our family's happiness and well being.
I promise to give all I can to make our children's lives instructive, and nurturing, and magical.
I promise to make you omelets.
I promise to always cook the turkey at Thanksgiving.
I promise honesty, and faith, and love.
I promise to try to learn to dance.
I promise to be considerate and generous.
I promise a wonderful marriage.
In the presence of our friends and family, I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward for as long as we both shall live.

Two notes: 

We play all sorts of car games on all of our travels. They keep us from going crazy after 10 hours in the car together. Anything from our version of twenty questions to word games our family has invented and are in the process of developing iPhone apps for.

And Steve is a great dancer. 

After the ceremony, we cut the cake, toasted, and visited with our guests. 

As our guests were departing, we realized we'd never had dinner! We went to one of our favorite local restaurants and shared a steak.

We made it through Christmas before escaping for a few days for a winter beach honeymoon. We spent the time there the way we always do. Cooking and playing! We made a classic 500 degree oven roast and it lasted us through many sandwiches and omelets. We had a few dinners out, including New Year's Eve, before coming home.

I wonder how I managed to lose when somebody kept sneaking up on me like this!

Coming home to our a home that felt like home for both of us was fantastic. Thanks for reading and sharing in our joy! Life is so, so good.

Andrea, Steve, and family

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