Neutral Header

Neutral Header

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Friends

My good friend JoMarie called me this morning with a last minute lunch invitation. She hosted a bridal shower for her grand-daughter last night and had oodles of leftovers! So she called a few of her neighbors to share  an informal mid-day meal.

 Now let me just say that JoMarie doesn't really do anything informally. She and I belong to the same women's service club and our unofficial motto is
"Anything worth doing is worth overdoing!"

 So I thought I'd share her lovely Fall tablescape. Don't you love how she elevated small pumpkins on silver and crystal candlesticks? I did something similar last year with brass candlesticks-I guess great minds think alike!

Jo loves haunting antique and thrift stores. She said she picked up this set of Czechoslovakian porcelain dinner plates for $1 a piece! Wow, gorgeous! But then to add a touch of whimsy she layered them on these chocolate brown polka dot chargers.

The table runner is burlap bordered with black velvet. Aren't we all loving how chic burlap has become? For a finishing touch she scattered candy corn down the middle of the table. Thanks JoMarie! There's nothing like spending time with good food and good friends!

I'm joining the following parties!
Tabletop Tuesday
Open House Party
Inspiration Friday
Feathered Nest Friday
Vintage Inspiration Friday

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nifty Thrifty Napkins

I always have a list of things that I'm looking for when I go thrift shopping. Lately I've been on the lookout for some linen napkins to use for the Christmas table setting I'm doing for my charity show house. Sometimes it takes awhile, but once you really start zeroing in on something, you're sure to find it! 

 These  are some of the sets of napkins I've been lucky enough to find in just the past few weeks! I never pay more than 50 cents apiece.

I did find a set of 12 embroidered white napkins that I'll use for my Holiday table setting, so I've bundled the rest up to take into my antique store.

I think that cloth napkins are like jewelry, in other words, accessories for the table. You can use cheap throw away stuff, but for special occasions it's nice to use the "real thing". 

 My daughter gave me this book a couple of years ago with all kinds of ways to fold napkins. It's been fun to play around with!

This is the French Laundry Fold.

Let me share with you my favorite napkin fold that I learned when I was in high school.
 I was working at the local department store and one day when things were slow I was given  box of napkins to fold for the tea room. You remember those nice little restaurants where ladies could go and have a bit of lunch with their friends? The Tiffin Room was the name of this dining spot, so for want of a better name I'll call this the "Tiffin Room Fold". (I'm sure it must have another name, I just don't know what it is!)

1-fold your napkin in half into a triangle.

 2-Bring the outside corners into the center to meet with the top point.

 3-Fold the napkin in half again by taking the bottom half and folding it under the top half.

4- Now fold the right side in half over the left side.

 Now the napkin will stand up by itself and looks very regal in the center of your plate. this works best with napkins that have a bit of body to them .

This fold is also perfect for displaying individual menus or placecards.

Beautiful linens are just one simple yet inexpensive way to accessorize your table! Have fun! 

I'll be joining

Tabletop Tuesday
Debbie's Newbie Party
Wow Us Wednesday
Share the Love Wednesday
Creative Things Thursdays
Time Travel Thursday
Potpourri Friday at 2805
Show and Tell Friday

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Apple Butter Pound Cake

Today's post is a two-for-one, a table setting and a recipe!

 As I was browsing at the Goodwill last week I spied some random pieces of English transferware, two earred cereal bowls, a small platter and a vegetable bowl. Hmm, kind of an odd mix, but I loved the design.This is the Pomona pattern made by Johnson Brothers and features a basket of fruit and flowers in rich autumnal colors.They were only a couple of dollars each so I bought them.

 Then when I went back this week looking for picture frames, imagine my joy when I found two dinner plates to match!

This is a simple everyday table setting, perfect for a couple of empty nesters or young marrieds. No fuss, just pretty plates, pewter flatware, and chunky amber goblets

 Now for the recipe.
 I found on the back of my pantry shelf a jar of apple butter that I had canned several years ago. My mother-in-law makes a delicious apple cake using fresh apples. I thought I would try to duplicate it using the apple butter instead.

The directions are basic: Cream the butter and sugar, 

 add the eggs,

alternately add the buttermilk and flour/spice mixture.

 Lastly I added the apple butter and poured the batter into my favorite silicone
 mini loaf pan.

 They came out a lovely rich brown color, but a little deflated in the centers. Nothing a bit of cream cheese frosting can't hide!

Voila! This cake is very moist and rich. Enjoy!
I have doubled the recipe because I like to make enough to freeze, so if you'd rather, cut the recipe in half.

Apple Butter Pound Cake

3 cups flour
3 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl

1 1/2 cups butter 
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup apple butter

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat until creamy. Alternately add dry ingredients and buttermilk. Add apple butter. Pour into 3-4 large or 6-8 mini loaf pans. (Loaf pans seem to vary in size so you may have some variance here.) Bake at 325 degrees for 45-60 minutes depending on your pan size. If desired, frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting or glaze.

I will be joining:
Tabletop Tuesday at A Stroll Through Life
Flea Market Finds
Wow Us Wednesdays
Open House Party Thursday
Time Travel Thursday
At the Picket Fence
Potpourri Friday
Vintage Inspiration Friday
Show and Tell Friday

Thursday, September 15, 2011

French Market Soup

Well the temps are down to the mid 90's which means
 Fall is in the air and I can make soup!

 I had a leftover ham bone from an event I helped with last week. Perfect for a crock pot of soup! I usually make traditional ham and navy bean soup but decided to try something new
French Market Soup 
from one of my favorite cookbooks Fix It and Forget It.

 Served with some artisanal crusty bread it made for a lovely simple supper.

 And since there are just the two of us I was able to freeze the leftovers for future easy dinners.

Here's their recipe with only a couple of small adjustments:

French Market Soup

1 ham hock
2 cups dried beans - I used garbanzos, lentils, red beans, navy beans and barley (it's what I had in the pantry)
2 quarts water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
1 large onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 bay leaf

Place all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove ham hock and remove meat from bone and return to pot. Turn crock pot to high and cook an addition 2 hours or until beans are tender. ( I actually made this the day before and let it cool in the refrigerator. I then skimmed the fat from the surface and reheated in the crock pot.

Bon Appetit!

I'm joining

Stone Gable on the Menu Monday

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Playing with Pumpkins

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Growing up in Pennsylvania I have such great memories of apple and pumpkin picking, and walking to school gathering leaves of scarlet, copper, bronze and gold. Sadly in Arizona we don't enjoy such Fall delights. Nevertheless, I can pretend by filling my home with pumpkins, gourds and other signs of the harvest!

Herewith, my Autumnal tablescape...

 Remember I found these wooden chargers at Goodwill a few weeks ago? I knew I'd be using them a lot! The dinner plate is a deep brown with a black border made by Arabia of Finland. The little fruit bowl is Wedgwood Old Chelsea and features a crane sitting on a branch.

I found this wonderful casserole dish recently thrifting. It is Royal Worcester and the pattern is Evesham one of their most popular designs.

For the table runner I've used a pashmina that I purchased a couple of years ago in India

I wanted to incorporate lots of wood so I nestled my pumpkins into vintage dough bowls.

These two little carved ladies are from Switzerland. Aren't they adorable? Goodwill finds!

 My brother gave me this little lad when he returned from a stint in Germany. I love his knapsack!

Now for the sideboard!

So even though it's still over 100 degrees outside Fall is in the air inside!

I'm joining: