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Monday, March 30, 2015

Lemon Blueberry Cake

A birth and a death. That's what happened in my neighborhood yesterday. We celebrate one and mourn the other. And we do it by taking food to the families.
 So this morning I baked.

Blueberries were on sale last week at my local market so I stocked up and froze some for the future and left some to eat fresh. Perfect for some Lemon Blueberry Cake. One of my favorite cookbooks is the Cake Mix Doctor. You know, the one that takes ordinary cake mixes and with a few modifications turns them into something special.  I added my own twist to come up with this recipe.

Start with a box of lemon cake mix, add Greek yogurt, eggs, oil, and  water. Dump it all into the mixer and mix for 3 or 4 minutes. Then fold in one cup of fresh blueberries. 

You can make one bundt cake but I chose to do several mini cakes, easy for giving.

 I'm so grateful for good neighbors and that we share our lives, both the joys and the sorrows. I'm also grateful for the faith that assures me that one day we will be reunited with those whom we have lost. That's what Easter is all about.

Lemon Blueberry Cake
1 box lemon cake mix
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup water
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries

Mix everything except the blueberries in mixer 3-4 minutes. Fold in blueberries. Pour into 5 mini loaf pans.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden. Cool, then dust with powdered sugar.

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                         Seasonal Sundays @ The Tablescaper

Monday, March 23, 2015

Blue Transferware

Recently while antiquing with my good friend Lora I picked up a piece of transferware and commented on its beauty. Lora loves dishes too, but transferware was not a term she was familiar with. 
So what is Transferware? 
Last week I posted about white ironstone which you can read about HERE. I mentioned that not all ironstone is white, in fact it can come in every color imaginable mostly in the form of either hand painting or transfer patterns. Transfer patterns are created by etching a design onto copper plates, then inking the plate and copying the pattern onto paper sort of like a lithograph. The thin sheets of paper are placed onto the unglazed ironstone plates and then glazed and fired in the kiln. The designs were usually pastoral countrysides, historic sites or botanicals.

Cobalt Blue was an exceptionally popular color because of the richness and stability of the color upon firing.

Staffordshire Liberty Blue
Wedgwood Countryside

classic Blue Willow
Flow Blue
 The English took inspiration from the exotic Orient and incorporated Chinese motifs into their dinnerware.
 I recently found this charming covered serving dish with the Blue Willow pattern . I love how it is decorated as beautifully on the inside of the bowl as it is on the outside.

Johnson Brothers Covered Wagons
Staffordshire Fair Winds

As usual, I'm not afraid to mix and match various patterns of transferware! 

The English exported countless pieces of transferware to America where it remains sought after by collectors. 
Look in  your grandmother's china cabinet and you may be lucky to find some. Otherwise come check out my booth at Merchant Square Antiques in Chandler, AZ!

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                 Seasonal Sundays @ The Tablescaper

Monday, March 16, 2015

Irresistible Ironstone

My love affair with English ironstone started with these. This pattern is Johnson Brother's Heritage White and I registered for it when I got married almost 38 years ago.
I think it is as stylish today as it was then. 

In fact, ironstone is more popular than ever and highly sought after by collectors. Last week while antiquing at a new shop I spied a heavy ironstone platter. Unfortunately it was out of my price range.While chatting with the owner we discovered we used to live in neighboring towns in New Jersey. She lamented how pricey ironstone has gotten. She says she used to purchase it by the box full and now feels lucky to find stray pieces.

The term "ironstone" was coined back in the early 1800's by Charles Mason, an English potter. He patented a particular process for making durable, mass produced earthenware dishes.  He dubbed it "ironstone" for it's strength. (It does not contain iron in the clay as some believe.) It is opaque as opposed to translucent like porcelain. The term became popular and was adopted by other pottery manufacturers.

 I felt extremely lucky to find eight of these rimmed soup bowls recently while thrift shopping. I love the way they look mixed and matched together. 

In fact, that is one of the great joys of white ironstone. The body (or clay) used is usually very similar from maker to maker so the pieces harmonize. These three pieces are all Johnson Brothers- Athena, Regency and Heritage.

There are countless serving pieces to fit every taste. 

While ironstone is durable it is not unbreakable. A common problem in old pieces is crazing, or the appearance of tiny cracks in the surface.  
To see if a piece is genuine ironstone look on the underside of the plates for the makers mark.  There are too many manufacturers to mention but I like Meakin, Spode, Adams, Johnson Brother's, Mason's, 
Wedgwood Queen's Ware, and those marked Staffordshire.

You can see how the mark on my plates have changed over three decades. The pieces are now dishwasher, freezer and microwave safe. 
American companies got into the act and there are lovely sets made by Red Cliff, Pfaltzgraff, Buffalo and Homer Laughlin among others. 

I can't resist an ironstone tureen or creamer! 

Of course, not all ironstone is white, but that's another post!

I like to join these parties

                   Seasonal Sundays @ The Tablescaper

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vintage Tins

While out thrifting yesterday I came across these three very different tins. One is a "Springy" Mary Engelbreit  design, next, an English tin that looks like an old tole tray and one made in Germany that is reminiscent  of Delft ware. Each cost less than $2. 

Vintage tins are a fun and inexpensive way to accessorize your home. Tins come in all sizes and shapes, colors, patterns and styles. There are vintage advertising tins, biscuit boxes, spice tins, cigar and tobacco tins, canisters and tins for shoe polish. Christmas cookie tins, Easter candy tins, the list goes on and on. 

On my drive home I realized that I have accumulated quite a few tins without even trying. In other words, I don't consider my a collector. I have very little knowledge of vintage tins and their value, I just think they're pretty!

I incorporate charming tins into many of my tabletop vignettes.

Here are some of my Holiday  tins stored away.

 This set of Dutch canisters came from my 
grandmother's house.

I keep various boxes and tins in the home office filled with stamps, paper clips and rubber bands. 

My other grandmother who was  a folk artist 
painted most of these. 

If there is any one style I prefer, it is these Quimper biscuit tins. I keep some in the kitchen, the rest are in my sewing closet filled with notions, buttons and thread.

I was in England in 2002 the year of the Queen's Jubilee and bought of box of shortbread cookies. The tin is a lovely reminder of that fun trip. Why don't we package our sweets so beautifully?

My collection is quite eclectic. Here is a vintage French tin I keep next to a Swedish one of a Carl Larsson painting. 

And of course I have tins in the pantry. They actually are filled with oats, cocoa and chocolate chips. 
I just refill as necessary.

This old tobacco tin is a perfect size for holding my recipe cards. 

And in the bathroom I use vintage tins to hold soap, sachets and potpourri.

And finally, my collection of tartan tins. They look great in my Scottish themed bathroom!

And now it's time to get out all of my Easter tins!

I'll be joining