Tablescapes, Home Decor, Thrifting, Cooking

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cookbooks and Casual Dining


As I become  more and more addicted to thrift shops my eye turns to so many items that people give up.



My eye is always looking for white dishes to add to my growing collection.  What FUN it is to come across really pretty pieces for such a little amount of money.  Along with my lifelong love for dishes  ~~  cookbooks seem to come in at a close second.  Do you ever look in the book section at your favorite thrifting places?  Garage sales are really, really good for this sort of find too.

  I know, I know…you are saying, “why purchase cookbooks when every recipe we want is on the computer?”  Yes, I often search the computer for recipes, but I also climb into my cozy bed each night, often with a cookbook and reading glasses.  I’m one of those people who reads cookbooks.



I love a good bargain on Junior Women’s League cookbooks!  These excellent books from so many towns can be found for a couple of dollars.   New, they would sell for from between $20 and $30.



While we are in the kitchen, go ahead and pull up a bar stool.  Mr. Brown Socks and I enjoy many casual meals here in the kitchen as we are Empty Nesters.  Our grandsons often sit up here too.


Today I have set up a tablescape of sorts at the bar.  My dish of the week is by Hartstone.  I have twelve of the red check dinner plates.  This was a line my friend and I sold when we had a little store in our town.



My collection includes a variety of salad plates



The deep red glasses came from a grocery store when we lived in Enid, Oklahoma back in the early 80’s.  I still love them.



Oh, did I tell you what I served for dinner?




We had hamburgers and bagged salad… No cookbook needed   :-}


Let’s go over now to visit Susan and see what’s happening at Between Naps on the Porch.

Tablescape Thursday


Really?  I didn’t tell you our menu??? 


Thanks for your visit,   



Friday, January 21, 2011

Fabulous Bread Pudding with some Dishes thrown in for Fun



Entertaining in January comes with challenges.  Unless you decorate with snowmen (which I really don’t so much anymore) there really isn’t a color scheme to work with or napkins that seem to fit the season.  (I know ~~~ there are certainly BIGGER problems in this world of ours!)


I recently hosted a small group Bible Study in my home.  After our study we serve a dessert and we also have a variety of teas, coffees, and any other beverage a person might think about….again…it depends on the season.



Pulling out my Red Transferware dishes seemed to be appropriate as we near February.


I plan to prepare a Tablescape with these, some of my most favorite dishes one of these days soon.


Okay, dishes decided upon ~~~ CHECK~~~  Now on to deciding what to serve for dessert!  Yikes!  We have some good cooks in this group and we take our desserts seriously! LOL!


I asked another group of friends if they had a favorite recipe and Jennifer came up with this idea:


Emeril’s White Chocolate and Blueberry Pudding with Amaretto Cream Sauce






  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons, melted
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 cups 1/2-inch cubes day-old bread
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
Amaretto Cream Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar


For the Bread Pudding: Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Butter a 10 by 14-inch baking dish with the softened butter. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the cream, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Add the bread, chocolate, blueberries, and dried blueberries and stir well, then mix in the melted butter. Let sit for 30 minutes so the bread will absorb the egg mixture.

Pour into the prepared dish. Bake until firm when pressed in the center, about 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack until just warm, about 20 minutes.

For the Amaretto Cream Sauce: In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the Amaretto and whisk until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, scald cream over medium heat. Add the Amaretto slurry to the hot cream and whisking constantly, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook, whisking for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and add the sugar. Whisk until dissolved. Let cool to room temperature before serving with the bread pudding.

Serves 8-10


Oh My Goodness!! Is this ever delicious!!!  I highly recommend you try this if you like bread pudding.  I did substitute some half and half for part of the heavy whipping cream.  I also think you could use almond extract in place of the Amaretto if you so choose.  I did not use any dried blueberries, only the one cup of fresh. My group of friends truly loved it and they all asked for the recipe.


Fitting right in with our Bible Study ~~ This was a bit of Heaven on Earth! Smile

Foodie_Friday_Logo_2I’m joining Michael and many other bloggers who are sharing recipes today.  Go on over and take a look at Foodie Friday.


We are studying “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver. The first lesson was very good.  Have you read this book or been involved with the Study?


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Flowers that will last forever



Sadly we will be traveling soon for a funeral.  My husband’s 56 yr. old cousin passed away of lung cancer and he never smoked a day in his life.


His mother (Mr. Brown Socks’ Aunt) is still alive at age 91.  She is just the sweetest lady and still has a big flower garden and grows Indian corn, bird house gourds and a few veggies.  My sisters in law asked if I would make a permanent floral arrangement that she could have and keep in memory of her dear son, Kevin.




Not sure why I thought she might like purple and green, but it just seemed a peaceful color combination.













The picture above shows a close up of the little furry pods I placed on the end.  I’ve mentioned before when I talk about flower arranging that it is always nice to have lots of texture and movement in the piece.



I hope she will like this keepsake.  It was fun putting it together for her while thinking of fond memories of Kevin.


I hope your day is going well.  Thanks for stopping by.



Monday, January 17, 2011

Well you see ~~~



I’ve been a little busy

and haven’t been blogging much



Remember I told you I had the urge to purge?  Well, it’s working!


And to think I just bought a new package of hangers in early January!  Now I have hangers to spare!





I have daughter Jamie to thank Big Time for being my # One Assistant!  She is the organized one.  Poor me just agreed when she told me it was time to discard so many clothes.  She made me consider the rule we’ve all heard numerous times….”Have you worn this in the past year?”  I threw in a couple of other rules before we began such as ~~~ 

“Does it look flattering on” 

“Is it pilled” 

“Do I really feel good in this?”

Those questions plus Jamie’s one year rule truly helped me in getting rid of so much.  I took about 14 bags to the thrift store.  How liberating!

She also goes by the color coordinating closet.  How in the world is she MY daughter?  I disposed of numerous shoes as well.  She made me take every pair out to the living room and line them all up.  You want to know her question?

“How many pairs of brown sandals does Donna need?”

Oh my!  It worked and out went the ugliest of the bunch!



She would not be happy with me if she knew I am placing a pic of her in her pj’s, but she still looks cute I think.  She had two snow days from her work while she stayed with us last week.  That’s how we got so much done.  The fun continued in the kitchen as snowy weather and cookie baking just seem to go hand in hand.

Never fear, we exercised to Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred a few times.

Let's Makes Cookies!


The tears flowed as I knew at the end of the week she was meeting up with her husband to begin life in a new city.  Dan had to go on ahead as his new job started while Jamie had to finish up her two week notice back in our town. 



Another happening was little Sammy’s 5th Birthday.  This Grammie always makes the Birthday Cake.  It was a bit of a challenge when Cute Boy wanted Batman.  It was hard to come up with something creative with a Batman theme.  Luckily after much searching I found the small plastic overlay and a package of twelve Batman rings.  I chose to just bake one round layer cake for the overlay and surrounded the cake with cupcakes using the rings and the other half of the cake batter.


You know what I learned?  It doesn’t take much at all to make a young child happy.  He grinned so big when he saw I pulled through with his request for Batman.  This couldn’t have been simpler and he was a happy little boy.  Smile


We went bowling as a family and he invited two little friends.  Angie said it was the easiest party she ever threw.  They had so much fun playing Bumper Bowling.  We adults had the lane next to them.  First time I’ve bowled in probably 15 years.  I need a little practice…



After bowling we went back to their home and had a family meal together.  Good memories…


Yes, I’ve been busy and haven’t shared much lately about what’s going on.  You want to know the real reason I’ve been scarce?  We got a new computer and it has taken me awhile to figure out how to download pictures and load Window’s Live Writer.  Why is something new so difficult? 

It’s that love/hate thing again with technology. 

Hopefully, I’ll get back into the blogging grove now that I am figuring some of this out.  Hope you’ll keep coming back to see what’s going on in my part of the world!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Is there anything better than good soup in January

 Call me crazy but almost always when dining at Olive Garden I order their Zuppa Toscana soup, salad and bread.  Something about the flavors of this warm bowl of goodness really appeals to me.  I love their salad too.

We always have soups on Christmas Eve.  The norm is chili and oyster stew.  This year we were having a few extra people.  Personally not liking oyster stew and liking chili okay ~~ I was more than happy to offer bringing another variety of soup this year.  For some reason Zuppa Toscana popped into my mind.

Do you know about the website copykat?  It has recipes that you might taste in restaurants and wish you could duplicate at home.  It had been quite some time since I thought to visit this site, but it did not let me down.  Within seconds I had at my fingertips the recipe I was looking for, complete with excellent reviews.

Joining Michael and so many good goods for Foodie Friday I am happy to share this recipe I found:

Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana is a creamy potato soup. It is filled with Italian sausage and is hard to beat.

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

Yield: 8 servings.

*See note below
1 1/2 C. spicy sausage links — 12
2 medium potatoes, cut in half lengthwise, and then cut into 1/4″ slices
3/4 C. onions, diced
6 slices bacon
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 C. kale leaves, but in half, then sliced
2 T. chicken base
1 qt. water
1/3 C. heavy whipping cream

**See note below   1/2 teaspoon fennel seed

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place sausage links onto a sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until done; cut in half length-wise, then cut at an angle into 1/2 inch slices.
Place onions and bacon in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until onions are almost clear. Remove bacon and crumble. Add garlic to the onions and cook an additional 1-minute. Add chicken base, water, and potatoes, simmer 15 minutes. Add crumbled bacon, sausage, kale and cream. Simmer 4 minutes and serve.

* A few changes I made ~~~First of all I came close to doubling all the ingredients since I felt like I wanted plenty.  Instead of link sausage I used one roll of Jimmy Dean's Hot sausage that I browned. 

**It was suggested by a reader to include 1/2 t. Fennel Seed which I did, doubling this as well.  This really added to the flavor, so I strongly suggest you add it.

My family really seemed to enjoy this recipe and some asked for the recipe, so I think you will like it if this soup appeals to you.  Hey, it's another way to get your deep dark greens in!

How is everyone doing with organizing by now?  It came to my mind a cleaning/organizing method a friend shared with me years ago.  I have never tried it but was always intrigued by it.  She would take one room a month to totally clean and organize.  She would do a thorough job of cleaning from the ceiling fan to the crevices in the corners of the closet.  I'm sure some rooms wouldn't take a month while others might take a month and a half.  It seems like it might be worth a try.  By the fall or year end depending on the size of your house, everything would have a good going over.  Anyone want to try this??

We just got a new computer over the holidays and I am still trying to figure things out.  I have no pictures on this new PC and I'm haven't even tried downloading any.  I am very excited to have something with this amount of speed!  The old one was painfully slow and hard to pull up blogs for a quick peek.

Til next time...back to our cleaning, people!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Urge to Purge

It started about the middle of last week….the desire to get rid of stuff….  That’s the nice thing about this time of year.  It’s as if God has given us a new chance to get it right.  It has been my lifelong goal to be an organized person.  Instead of being organized, I am the opposite.  I am sentimental and have a hard time parting with anything that might have a memory attached.  I know it’s silly and it’s only an item.  So once again I am going to muster up all my strength and try to eliminate clutter.  My goal is to store nothing on the floor!  Isn’t that an awful habit?  Have any of you tried the Fly Lady approach to cleaning and organizing?  I never have but somehow I am getting her emails again.  (cluttering up my mailbox!)

We had a nice Family Oriented Christmas.  I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  It’s always a nice calm down time.  My mother always comes home with us during this time and we enjoy a bit of shopping, Scrabble and card playing.  We ate too many cookies and vowed to throw out the ones we really didn’t like.

Mr. Brown Socks shared his awful cold with me over the holidays.  The only good thing to come out of this is a discovery I made.





blowing nose

Have you ever slept in your guest room?  Hoping to avoid his cold and to try and sleep without listening to his coughing spells, I took my flannel pj body down to the guest room.  Oh my!  I learned two things by doing this!  First of all the pillows on that bed are AWFUL!  I’ve already apologized to my sister who sleeps in that room more than anyone.  One was too lumpy.  One was too hard.  Out of four I never did find one that was just right.  So I now have new pillows on my shopping list.  How do you know which one to buy?  It’s not like we can try them out in the store!!  The other thing I noticed was it’s dark as the Ace of Spades in that room.  I had to feel my way to the bathroom.  A nightlight is needed to help guests find their way in the middle of the night.  Think about sleeping where you place your guests.  You might learn something!  I’m glad I did.

Silk Thumb Christmas 2009 008



Along with the cold I discovered a positive.  My irritated throat longed for something hot and soothing.  This tea is really, really good!  It’s different from Peppermint tea.  This green tea also has orange peel, vanilla and mint, blackberry leaves, carob, cinnamon and a few other flavorings.  It is so good I stopped at Target to see if I could find another box.  It is a seasonal tea so I figured it wouldn’t be around again until November.

I felt comforted drinking this yummy hot tea out of my Christmas mugs.

















Now it’s time to get going on the undecorating process.  I think I’m ready for it to come down now.  I even bought some new pretty bins at Target to help me organize my Christmas better.


Should I take down Christmas or take a nap with this little Fur Baby?  Hmmmmmmm…..that’s a tough one!


May 2009 012


Happy New Year Everyone!