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Friday, August 26, 2011

Table Topper Tutorial

Over the years I have made dozens of these "French" table toppers. They are so easy to make and you can make them in any style to fit your own decor. So I thought I'd share a "how-to" today.

 I typically use decorator fabric which runs 54"-60" wide. The piece needs to be square so it takes about 1 1/2 yards depending on the exact width of the fabric you use.

 You also need 3/4 yard of coordinating fabric for the border. Cut this into 4 strips each 5" wide by the full width of the fabric. In other words, if your main fabric is 54" wide make sure your strips are 5" x 54".

Pin a strip of fabric with the right side of the strip against the wrong side of the tablecloth and stitch using 1/2" seam.

Now fold the border back against the right side of the tablecloth and press. Turn under the raw edge 1/2 inch and press. That gives you a 4" border.

Topstitch the border 1/4 inch from the inside edge.  Trim the edge of the border even with the edge of the tablecloth. Now repeat on the opposite side

 Next you'll do the remaining 2 sides. Before you topstitch, there should be about 1 inch of border fabric hanging over each side. I merely tuck these under and press in place before stitching them down. If I feel ambitious I'll miter the edges, but most of the time I don't bother.
From start to finish you can make one of these in about an hour!

It's also fun to use a coordinating fabric on the back and make a reversible topper.
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I am joining Cindy at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Friday.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The End of Summer

Remember all those dishes I found at the Goodwill a couple of weeks ago? Well, here is an end of Summer tablescape
incorporating my new finds with some old favorites.

 I started with this tray that my darling husband brought home from New Zealand for me
 many, many years ago.

 I added this charming hen casserole dish, some wooden candlesticks, and a 
bouquet of sunflowers that same darling husband recently brought back from Seattle.They dried quite nicely!

 Here are those awesome wooden chargers I found for $1.50 each at the thrift store.Next I layered the Adams Empress dinner plates and an Arabia  bread and butter plate. The brown linen napkins belonged to my grandmother Emily. All are set on table runner I made out of leftover drapery fabric.

 These beautiful goblets are made by Lenox. The pattern is Antique Brown. I received them as a wedding gift.

 A few random pitchers and crocks give great texture to the table and are great for serving sauces or gravy.

And now aren't you ready for the days to get a little shorter and the nights a little cooler?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chocolate Almond Breadsticks

Today I thought I'd just share with you one of my favorite party recipes. Years ago I was a caterer and though I rarely cater professionally anymore, occasionally I'm asked to help with a wedding. I made these Chocolate Almond Breadsticks as part of  wedding brunch for a friend of mine. They are light, crispy and sweet and would make a nice addition to a dessert buffet or afternoon tea! They are so easy and can easily be made ahead of time. Bon Appetit! 

Chocolate Almond Breadsticks
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/2 cup salted almonds, toasted and finely chopped
1/3 cup raw sugar
4 ounces milk or dark chocolate, finely chopped
Butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl mix the sugar and nuts together.
Unfold pastry puff dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin,  thin dough to ¼-inch thick. Cut in half. Lightly brush one side with melted butter.
Sprinkle entire surface with sugar-nut mixture, pressing it into dough. Next sprinkle chocolate pieces evenly over surface.
Lightly brush other half of dough with melted butter and place over top of side 1, butter side down. Using rolling pin, seal pieces together.
Brush the top of pastry with melted butter and lightly sprinkle with sugar if desired. Cut into 12 strips
Take a strip and twist. Transfer to a silpat mat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Press ends into baking sheet to prevent breadsticks from untwisting during baking. Chill for 15 minutes before baking.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Let cool. Makes 12 breadsticks

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Garden Surprise

Don't you love getting something for FREE?

 About 6 weeks ago I noticed a new sprout in my herb garden that quickly grew into a vine. I had harvested all of my lettuce and spread some compost in the area so I left it alone. I thought it might be a cucumber vine so I put up some stakes for it to climb on.

It spread rapidly and I could see something dangling from the vine. Hmm, that seems a bit chubby for a cucumber! What is it?

 Oh look! It's a cantaloupe! I've never grown cantaloupes nor did I plant any intentionally, but clearly I had spread some seeds in my compost. What a fun surprise! Who says there's no such thing as a 
free lunch? And I noticed yesterday there's a second little cantaloupe on the vine, bonus!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Plenty of Plates!

Okay, I admit it, I went a little crazy thrift shopping this weekend! I've been looking for
  white dinner plates to use for my Christmas House table setting.
 ( That's the community fundraiser I help with every year.) After searching Homegoods, Ross and Marshall's and coming up empty handed (hard to believe, but true) I headed off to Goodwill.
 Oh my! It was a dish jackpot!

 I have loved this pattern for years. It's called Blue Danube by Lipper. Of course, it's a knock off of the famous Blue Onion pattern by Meissen. The Meissen plates sell for over $100 each. I paid $1 apiece for 6 of these. I think they're a pretty good substitute!

 Next I found 6 of these great ironstone plates made by Adams/Wedgwood . The Adams Company was acquired by Wedgwood and manufactured the ironstone line. Wedgwood china is my all time favorite and I own 4 different sets. I guess make that 5! By the way, this pattern is called Empress.Replacements sells these for $28 each. I paid $1.

 Now here's what I found for my Christmas table setting. Another favorite china manufacturer of mine is Portmeirion. While not as historic as Wedgwood, Portmeirion is another English china maker with a great reputation. They are best known for their Botanic Garden pattern with each plate painted with a different botanically correct floral design.

This set however, is a nice blend of traditional and contemporary. They are designed by Sophie Conran and have a wide rim and very subtle white on white concentric circles. As you can see, they are brand new with the label still attached. One of the plates even had a Macy's receipt taped to the back. They retailed for $22 each. That's right, I paid $1.

 How about these white on white salad/dessert plates? I found 4 of them. They'll make great mix and match extras for dessert buffets. The pattern is Trellis.

 These were just too cute to resist. Two Stafforshire salad/dessert plates with a tiny blue flower called Petite Fleur.

 There's more! I also found 6 of these wood chargers in perfect condition. Won't they be fabulous for Fall table settings? I splurged and paid $1.50 apiece.

Rounding out the stash are some random serving  pieces and smaller plates and bowls.
I found ALL of these gorgeous pieces at one location! 
Lucky me!
Tablescapes featuring the above dishes will be sure to follow :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Kid Cuisine Cooking Camp!

 Every now and then I turn my kitchen into a Petite Cordon Bleu and teach cooking classes to kids in the neighborhood. We had a great time this week learning cooking techniques and making a variety of dishes from around the world. Here's just a sampling of a few of the kids' favorites.

This is the filling and rolled out dough for our Cheesy Chicken Pinwheels.

 The mystery ingredient  is fruit cocktail in the cake batter!

 Ingredients for Yogurt Parfaits and Picture Perfect Breakfast Squares.
The kids loved choosing their favorite fillings.

Mmm, Lazy Day Lasagna made with frozen ravioli got rave reviews!

Happy Campers!

We even had time to fit in some lessons on etiquette and table manners. Merci Beaucoup!