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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Neighbor Gifts

Mmm, Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Quickbread, it sounds sweet and comforting! I love giving gifts from my kitchen and every year I try to find fun 
containers to put my treats in.

Happily I found all of these canning jars recently at the Goodwill! They are the kind with a rubber gasket, hinge and clasp. They cost only $1 each so I bought 30 of them. I told the fellow at the checkout that I was going to use them for neighbor gifts and he said,
"Wow, you have a lot of neighbors!"

 Apparently someone was retiring from the candle business. All of the jars featured a different scent and they were coated with waxy residue.Yuk!

A trip through the dishwasher and they came out 
sparkling clean!

 I'm sure most of you have made or received layered cookie mixes in a jar. This recipe however is for a quick bread, even easier! I found the recipe on the Sunset website. You can link to it HERE. Don't the jars look great with their layers of flour, sugar, oats, chocolate and spices?

 I added an instruction label,

and a gift tag. I like that my friends can keep this on their pantry shelf and use it at their convenience. 

What is your favorite gift to your neighbors?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

La Cigale

Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains outside of Harrisburg is a charming little Country French shop called La Cigale. I'm so glad that I made visiting a priority for our current trip to Pennsylvania. 

 The store specializes in French linens from Provence. There are lovely tablecloths, napkins and placemats in every bright sunny color available!

They also sell fragrant French soaps and little Santons, 

 brightly painted dinnerware, 

and charming pieces of artwork.

I was able to open an account with them and will bring home lots of tablecloths to put in my antique store. It was so hard to choose!
 If you happen upon tiny Mt. Gretna in Pennsylvania
 be sure to stop in!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Christmas Raffle Table 2012

In 4 weeks is the annual Christmas Idea House here in 
Mesa, Arizona. This is a great fundraiser that provides scholarships to worthy students and supports local charities. Let me show you what I've been working on the last several months.

I got to be in charge of the Raffle Table for a second year. I love putting together a holiday tablescape!  Last year I chose a very dramatic black, white and turquoise theme. 
Click HERE to see it. 
This year my theme was "Tartan and Toile". 

 I found almost everything at thrift shops including red and white transferware salad/dessert plates, vintage silverware by Gorham, French crystal, even the Stewart tartan and red toile  fabrics.

 I filled a vintage crate with paperwhites and pinecones nestled in glass hurricanes. 

The lucky winner will receive 8 full place settings  of china, silver, crystal, linens, candles, favors and centerpiece.Wow! And it's only $5 a ticket! If you live in Mesa or anywhere in the greater Phoenix area come join the women of Desert Club for this fun event.
 For more info click here Christmas Idea House.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sweet Spreaders

I started my love affair with these darling spreaders several years ago. They started popping up in gourmet shops, kitchen and cooking stores. Now you can find them at most gift shops - or if you're lucky at thrift stores too! 

 These little spreaders come in all different shapes and themes. I bought these cute Pilgrims last year to use for Thanksgiving.

 I've started gathering my Christmas spreaders placing them in matching prep bowls. I keep a tray full of baking utensils handy for decorating cookies with.

 This a set of cheese knives. Don't you love the detail on these tiny wheels of cheese?

And look at the tiny lady bugs on these flower pot spreaders!

I keep most of my collection in a pot on my countertop handy for spreading jam on toast or cheese on a cracker.

I've always got a few sets of spreaders at my booth at Merchant Square. Come and see me!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Easy Apple Butter

We all know Fall is apple picking time. What could be better than a trip to the countryside and picking fresh, firm apples? When I was in Utah a couple of weeks ago my friend Kathy gave me a crate of apples from her brother's orchard. Aren't they beautiful? 

 There were too many to eat out of hand so that meant making applesauce and apple butter! Let me share with you my new favorite method for apple butter.  All you have to do is wash, quarter and core your apples. No need to peel! Fill your crock pot with apples, add a little sugar (I used 1/4 cup), about a cup of water, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of ground cloves and let it cook all night in your crock pot on low. You will awake to the  lovely smell of apples and spices! 

 When making applesauce I usually use a potato masher because I like the slightly chunky texture. If you use this method you have to peel the apples.

 Instead, just use an immersion blender right in the crock pot. It will puree all of those peels and give a nice smooth texture to your apple butter. I have seen many recipes that suggest using a food mill or sieve, but this method eliminates that step. So easy!

 You can keep your apple butter in the refrigerator and use within a week or so. I put mine through a water bath process for 20 minutes so I can have that sweet and spicy goodness to last me for several months!

One of my favorite Fall recipes is my 
Apple Butter Pound Cake. 
Check out the recipe HERE .  We had company this weekend and instead of using the traditional cream cheese frosting I served it with a butter sauce that will have you licking the plate. Seriously! 
Butter Sauce for Apple Cake
1/2 cup butter (the real stuff)
1/2 cup evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
dash nutmeg
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook on medium low heat until thickened (about 20 minutes). Serve warm over cake.

I'll be joining

Monday, October 22, 2012

Silver Baby Cups

The gift of a silver baby cup to a newborn is a lovely tradition dating back to Colonial times. There are several theories as to how this tradition got started including religious symbolism, health reasons or good wishes for future prosperity. 

 I was lucky enough to find this baby cup last week while out thrifting for less than $3. 

I was doubly thrilled when upon polishing an initial "C" was revealed. I love to find vintage items with my monogram!

I have a small collection of baby cups and toothpick holders. The cups are silverplate but the toothpick holders are all sterling silver. You can occasionally find these for very affordable prices, I never pay more than $15-20.

I keep my collection on a silver tray on my bathroom counter filled with toiletry items.So simple and so pretty!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pretty Pumpkins

I developed a love of collecting from my mother. She is an artist and gave me an appreciation of beautiful things. As I visited her this past week I took a few photos of  her amazing pumpkin collection. 
Pretty glass pumpkins in silver compotes, 

ceramic pumpkins sharing space with her 
Quimper collection,  

tiny pumpkins,

carved cinnabar ,

and pumpkins with Pilgrims.
This is just a small sampling. Enjoy!