Tablescapes, Home Decor, Thrifting, Cooking

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Silk Arrangement Makeover


A designer brought over an older arrangement last week that was in desperate need of a makeover.  They still liked some of what was in it but it was “tired” and the container wasn’t right.






In Steps the Classy Urn


Doesn’t an urn make everything right?



We went down to my workroom to look for a replacement for the calla lilies and to see what else we could find.



This could have been a possibility but the color wasn’t right and the flower was quite iffy for the arrangement as well.



Ah Ha!  The pitcher plant was a much better color and had that uniqueness that was needed for such an open arrangement.


Just curious….Do you like these?  My customers are very divided on this look.  Lots love them and some think they are quite strange looking.  I do love them and carry them in an assortment of colors and sizes.




Next we needed something for height.  I pulled out the dried up tall orchid leaves.


Oh….Nice!  These curly tall spikes were just what the Doctor Designer ordered.



I quickly went to work as they needed to pick up the new and improved version in a couple of hours and


A new look!



I still used the bamboo sticks in the middle, the rattan orbs, the white flowers and the little round rust flowers.  I added new sheet moss, a little fern for drapeiness, the pitcher plants and the tall curly thingies.



Here is a closeup look




A fresh new look in a flash!





I am joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphis Monday.  It’s a great place to see a variety of makeovers. 

Met Monday

Thursday, September 23, 2010

We Went Dancing 5,6,7,8

Do you and your Significant Other Dance?






Mr. Brown Socks and I met at a Dance.  It was a winter evening at the YMCA just after a High School Basketball Dance.  He picked me out of a line of Wall Flower girls.  I can still remember that moment, being the chosen one.   :)

To this day he loves to dance to the song “YMCA” and has requested it for Jamie’s wedding.



Funny thing is neither one of us have much for natural rhythm.  We used to just sway to the music, you know the look.  For years we would attend wedding receptions and be one of those couples who would just sit at the table watching others have fun on the dance floor, waiting for a slow song to be played.  Then we would sway….

That was until ten years ago.  Just before our oldest daughter got married we decided to take dance lessons.  We had so much fun we signed our daughters up for lessons with us (although they knew how to dance) along with our future son in law and Mr. Brown Socks’ brother and his wife.  We loved it and it became something we continued for several years.  Our favorite dance was East Coast Swing.  We also took lessons in Country Two Step, the waltz and a variety of other steps that we never really got very good at.  We decided it didn’t matter that we didn’t dance like pros.  It allowed us to dance at weddings with a smidgen bit of confidence instead of sitting and playing with the silverware.


Here we are caught in action at a family member’s reception

dancing at Carly's wedding


And our daughter snapped this of us tearing up the rug in her apartment


Last night we went to a local establishment which is Country oriented.  They offer a different lesson each Wednesday night.  We had gotten pretty good at the Stationary ChaCha for quite some time.  For a couple of years we didn’t do much dancing and we forgot the moves to this dance.  Last night was the Stationary ChaCha lesson.  In ten minutes we remembered it again and had fun stepping around to songs like Neon Moon. 


Oh yes, we might have looked pretty silly.  We didn’t have country boots.

I was wearing Mary Jane’s because I can keep them on my feet and Mr. Brown Socks was wearing brown loafers with his brown socks.

It didn’t matter.  We were out there having a good time doing something as a couple.


I would love to know if you dance or have taken lessons!

Please share your stories!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Coffee Talk

One of my favorite stores to visit in Chicago is Trader Joe’s.

I usually come home with a nice assortment of great finds from here.

The staff is so friendly and always quick to give you suggestions of something good and generously offering a free cup of coffee.



This time we asked some of his favorite choices for coffee.

Our request was for a full bodied coffee that was rich but not bitter.  One that would just go down smoothly but you could really taste the flavor.  He suggested Columbia Supremo.  Trader Joe’s coffees come as whole beans but they have a grinder right there by their cans which is very simple to operate.


I LOVE this coffee and will be buying it again for sure.  It’s just exactly what I asked for.


Do you like flavored coffees?  In the morning, I want my coffee simple…plain and black..nothing in it.

If I want a flavor it has to be at night and then not much of it.  Normally I don’t care for the flavored varieties because they almost have a perfumed taste to them.  :(

Hint for the day

Try placing a rounded teaspoon of powdered cinnamon on top of the grounds before brewing.  It gives the coffee just a hint of flavor.  Just enough that your guest will say, “what kind of coffee is this?”  Adjust the amount to your taste.



Another Hint:

Buy your cinnamon at TJMaxx for a great price!



Oh how I LOVE a GOOD cup of coffee!!


For some other great news ~~~~ we are getting a Trader Joe’s nearby just in time for the Holidays!

I’m doing the Happy Dance! :)

Hope you are doing the Happy Dance today too.  I’m going with one of my daughter’s for her bridesmaid’s dress fitting.

May all your coffee be good coffee!  Wish I could enjoy a cup with my Blogging Buddies!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Simple Entertaining


Emily used to live in the heart of Chicago in a small little condo, perfect for one.  She has a very good friend who is one of the sweetest girls on the face of this earth.  Kristy now lives in the condo where Emily used to live.  She was going to be out of town while we were visiting in Chicago, but she had a surprise for us.  Emily has the key to her place and we were told to go on inside. 


There was a card waiting for us.  Inside it read how sorry she was to  be out of town but she wanted us to have a special treat from her. 

Light the candles, the card read.

Open up the fridge and pull out the cheese tray and open up the wine.





Did we ever enjoy!

She had a variety of cheeses including Havarti Dill and and Blue Stilton which is a mild blue cheese from England.  That was my favorite.  I’m going to be looking for it.


Also on the tray were chocolate covered almonds and dried apricots to round out the flavors.



It reminded me of another time someone had us over for a wine and a cheese tray.  The simplest of entertaining but yet SO enjoyable. 



Can you imagine having people over and not even being there?  Now that is a good friend!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I {Heart} Chicago!

Hey everyone,

Home again and the calendar says we have one month until Jamie and Dan’s wedding day!  Yikes!

My three daughters and I had a four day weekend in Chicago where one of my daughter’s lives.  Until Emily moved there, I didn’t know much about this gorgeous city. 




We walked to the Renegade Craft Fair and saw such unique crafts.

I picked up lots of business cards with Etsy addresses!



I just had to capture pictures of this young “Frenchman”??  His basket was even complete with a baguette.



Some of us got mini makeovers and made a few purchases.  We do have a wedding to get ready for ~~ don’t you know?  :)



We shopped and we thrifted

And then we shopped some more


We kept saying over and over how much we loved being there.  So much to see, so much to do, great food and beautiful flowers everywhere we looked.





Angie had to leave several hours before Jamie and I to get back to work.


A great time was had by all.

Thank You Emily for being a super hostess. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Little By Little

Labor Day has passed.  Just walking out in the yard there are the beginning signs of Fall.  The tomato and cucumber plants are looking pitiful.  My burning bush plant is starting to show signs of that beautiful burnt red.  I’ve noticed a fall wreath on doors here and there.


With wedding plans frantically coming to completion I decided if there was going to be Fall decor in my home this year, I better start early.  Out came the autumn crates with pumpkins pouring out.



All the Fall prettiness is not out but I started with the living room coffee table.


These little spaniels just seem to feel right with the hominess of the season, don’t they?





And Look! They are sitting so sweetly on top of my gift from France my daughter Emily brought back for me!


Books I, II, III and IV of

Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables

ohh, lala!




Totally in French!

Can’t wait to read it…. :)



This little squirrel which is attached to a book is sitting on the fourth book.

I found him at an Estate Sale.



Here is their profile shot.

Oh, the pashmina I used for texture and color is also from France.



Today I’m joining Marti at A Stroll Thru Life

Tabletop Tuesday party!


Table Top Tuesday


and Rhoda at Southern Hospitality

Today's Thrifty Treasures




Monday, September 6, 2010

A New Twist to Labor Day

For most people, Labor Day brings to mind a family picnic or perhaps working in the yard or an end of summer boating trip and the start of Fall.


For me, I took the word “Labor” in Labor Day literally.  Two of my three babies were born ON Labor Day!


The first time it happened I thought, “Oh how cute…a baby born on Labor Day”.  The second time when my water broke in the middle of the night and it occurred to me it was “Labor” Day again….I thought, “this is ridiculous!”  Emily was ten days late and Jamie was about that many days early.


We normally celebrate their birthdays together even though their special days are actually two days apart.

Emily and Jamie in NYC

Happy Birthday Dear Sweet Girls!

I feel so fortunate to have Three Dear Daughters.  We have a lot of fun together.  This next weekend we are having a mother/daughter trip to hang out just before Jamie gets married.  We are going to ~~~~

NYC! 001

Enjoy Labor Day in whatever way YOU choose to spend it!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Easy to Please Decorated Cakes

A few years ago when I became a Grandmother, I tried to think of someway I could be a fun Grammie.  One area that was just my cup of tea was decorating birthday cakes.  When my three daughters were young I always made fancy schmancy birthday cakes for them using those formed metal cake pans and a Wilton star frosting tip.  It would take hours to fill in all the sectioned areas with star frosting.


  I have now discovered through goggling there are tons of ways to cut a cake to make shapes.  Using candies, cookies and sprinkles (and what kid doesn’t love those?) I could make fun and creative cakes for my three grandsons.  Some still take quite a bit of time and some are quick.  Either way, the boys are thrilled and I know they think of me as their Birthday Cake Grammie knowing lots of love when into their special cakes.


Here are a few samples of cakes I’ve made for them:


This was the year Sammy loved horseys

Christmas 2008 and Sams 3 birthday 020

At age Five Christian had a Pirate Party.

This one was one of the most time consuming but the little boys were in a trance over the cake.  Christian’s Daddy made the sails.  Notice the brown sugar for sand and the malted milk balls for savers for port holes.  You can really get going with all the possibilities!


Christian's Pirate Party 5 009


Christian's Pirate Cake 002


The year of the Magic Party was a head scratcher.  I had to go to the craft store to find props for this cake.  If nothing else works, just use candies for the border!  Gold wrapped coin candies and a special lighted “wand” added to the magical feel.

Christian's 7th birthday and church funday 2009 006


This one was precious for Max’s First birthday.  The top for the carousel  was wrapping paper I happened to have on hand.  Animal cookies, straws wrapped in ribbon and colorful malted balls finished off the look.

Baby Max Turns One 002


When Max turned two his parents started calling him Curious Max.  That brought to mind a Curious George cake of sorts.  Chocolate donuts formed the ears

There was no good place to put the candles so I made two cupcakes with sprinkles to hold the two candles.


I have more to show, but that will be another day.  I want to share an easy chocolate cake that I make, doctoring up a cake mix:


Basic Buttermilk Devil’s Food Cake

this recipe is from Cake Mix Doctor

1 plain devil’s food cake mix (I use Duncan Hines)

3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/3 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup veg. oil

3 lg. eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350 and grease pans, then dust with flour.

2.  Mix cake mix, cocoa, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in mixing bowl, mix as directed on box.  Bake until cake springs back around 28 to 30 mins.  Remove cakes from pans and cook on wire rack, then invert them again so that the cakes are right side up.

It’s best to freeze the cakes after they cool.  They are much easier to frost this way. Use a cake mix without pudding.  It is much sturdier and will hold together better.


Today I am joining Foodie Friday.