Oscar was My Neighbor ... Kind of!

You are all probably watching the Oscars as I write this ... do you know who Oscar actually was? Take a look at this article The Southern Illinoisan Newspaper Oscar!! I was delighted to learn tha Oscar Micheaux came from my neck of the woods! Take another look at this one! Who Knew?

A Few Favorite Tables for you to See!

I'm reposting from last summer ... a slide show of favorite tables ... because there are some cute spring scapes in it.  Might give us some inspiration for upcoming holidays!  Special thanks to Chari at Happy to Design for hosting her Sunday Favorites Party!  Make sure you click through to visit the other posts!

Shopping at Atomic Home!

I'm reposting from a few weeks ago ... so I can participate in Junkin Finds Friday at A La Carte.  Thanks to our hostess for letting us show our treasures!

Original Post:

My daughter "dragged" me to her favorite antique store last week!   It's called Atomic Home and located in my hometown, Murphysboro, Illinois.  It's an antique  store to her ... but just stuff from my first kitchen  to me!  We love the owners ... and we love their style of showcasing great collectibles from the 50s-60s-70s!  

Anyway ... I bought this incredible teakwood salad set ... I seldom see the serving bowl with 8 matching bowls ... in any pattern that is interesting!  This one looks like somebody notched little thumb-size chunks out of the outer sides of the bowls ... Just love it and cannot wait to use it! 

I also bought this great set of  1971 (Sears and Roebuck) Federalist ironstone in LEMON yellow!  There are 10 place settings ... some serving pieces ... and I have the perfect glassware to go with it!  I spent less than $75 that afternoon ... and I think I got a thrifty deal!  You'll see all this in future tablescapes!

T is for T-Bone!

I'm participating in the Alphabet Party at Jenny's place!  Make sure you click through to visit the other posts!

T is for T-Bone ... what else could it stand for?  Here's a good one, positioned with another favorite thing, Southern Illinois sweet corn!  I always take a week off around the Fourth of July holiday, and last summer I set out to photograph everything I cooked.   All we do is hang out around the house, entertain a little, enjoy family and food!  I've included  a few other foodie photographs from the week!  The only thing "T" about this is that they might have been "too" good!  Enjoy!

The Music of Tea

I'm ... participating in the High Tea Tablescapes party at Decor to Adore, so make sure you click through to visit all the other party posts.   Special thanks to our hostess.  I'll also be including this post in Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch and Home Sweet Home party at the Charm of Home.  You'll also want to visit those linky parties to enjoy all the other posts. 

I think the perfect High Tea begins with beautiful silver service and porcelain teapots!  I'm sharing a photo of my new Towle service ... and yes, I have others, but this style is more in line with the way we entertain these days.  I'm all about making things a little more casual and less stuffy!

My tea theme is "The Music of Tea" and I've chosen to include some of my wooden music boxes in the tablescape.  My large one is a reproduction of the 1800s style with turning punched disks ... with ballerinas in the window.  Mine was made by "Mr. Christmas" and is electric, so I have to hide the cord under the table covering!  Children (of all ages) are always fascinated by the turning disk and dancers!

Some of the other special things on my table are two of my collection of Moss Rose teapots.   I like to serve more than one kind of tea at "high tea", so I use multiple pots.  I actually serve tea with the courses of food ... and yes, I think high tea has evolved into supper ... so I usually have three courses ... soup with a strong blend of tea ... sandwiches with a moderate blend of tea ... and dessert with a delicate floral blend.  I always serve iced water (sometimes flavored) with tea ... and sometimes I freeze ice cubes in special shapes and/or colors.  In my effort to create topics of table talk, I've included my husband's grandmother's hand tatted lace tablecloth in my layers of table coverings ... and a wooden tray that I bought at an antique shop ... that has been hand made.  I love the chiseled pattern on the tray!  Notice the wooden box I've used as a teapot perch?  I would probably fill similar boxes with the tea sandwiches, scones and cakes ... leaving them open, of course.

Here's my full place setting ... mostly Depression Glass. 

I love using the little teapot shaped tea bag holders ... but never use tea bags ... so I've used them to hold sugar stick/stirrers at each place. I'm serving scones with cream cheese and jam, so the bread and butter plate and butter knife is a must.  I've used a round soup spoon and the grill knife and fork in my set of silver.  Grille knives and forks were designed with longer handles ... to allow users to "dig into" salads and open faced sandwiches ... without getting anything on their hands!

In this final collage, you can see the teaspoon I used.  It is actually shorter than the typical teaspoon ... called an "afternoon spoon" ... and is designed specifically for afternoon tea or coffee!  The silver plate flatware is Oneida, in the Evening Star pattern ... from the 1950s ... collected at shops and flea markets!

Hope you've enjoyed High Tea at my house.   Rest assured ... you will have been visited by at least one of two four-legged friends.  They are both built-in vacuum cleaners ... one trained and the other one self-taught!  The food was fabulous ... the music was relaxing ... and the company, as always, was the best part!  Thanks for joining me.

Five things that Make me Smile!

I'm linking to Chef Laurie's Yum Yum Party, so make sure you visit the The Turner Farm to see all the other party posts!  I just don't have any problem finding photographs in my archives that make me smile!  Let me introduce you to my great-grandparents, Anna and Jacob Mueller (Miller).  Anna and Jacob were my mother's grandparents ... her mother's parents.  My mother looked just like her mother ... who looked just like her mother, Anna.  I have a brother who now looks exactly like Jacob ... eerily like Jacob!  Anyway, here they are on the 1890 wedding day and then, on their 50th wedding anniversary day!

Here they are with their children.  My grandmother Ida Dora Mueller is the little girl on the right ... and yes, I have a great niece who would look just like her if we  braided her hair and pinned it up!  My Great-Aunt Margaret is the little girl on the left.

Here's Aunt Margaret with her fiance upon their engagement.  I loved her ... they had a big dairy farm and she tried to teach me how to milk a cow!  They really had milking machines when I was a little girl ... but she loved to milk enough for her cats ... and did she ever have cats!

This is my Grandmother Ida ... We were never allowed to use first names, so this is Grandma and Grandpa Schuster in their elder years.  I was so lucky ... Grandma and Grandpa lived just one block from my childhood home.   My other grandfather lived just across the street from them!  Pretty convenient for my siblings and me.  I always knew when Grandma was baking!  I could probably smell the sweet aromas, she was so close to us!  (We certainly knew when she was canning kraut!)
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Tabletop of Coke!

Here's a cute post from my daughter's Coke collection! Her dining room table and buffet are covered with memorabilia. We were doing a photo shoot of cakes that included soda pop in the ingredients! Pretty cute.

I'm linking to Marty's Tabletop Tuesdays, so make sure you visit the other posts at the party!

Getting Ready for High Tea!

I'm getting ready for the High Tea Tablescapes party this week ... at Decor to Adore, so I was going through some of my favorite teatime recipes.  These Peaches and Cream Scones are really good.  They are moist and the fruit keeps them that way, so they are great to freeze.   Three months in the freezer is probably the limit, but they are just as fresh out of the freezer as they are out of the oven.

Try them and check out Decor to Adore to see the details of the upcoming party!

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Peaches & Cream Scones

1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup peach puree/ juice
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold
3/4 cup fresh peaches, chopped

Canned or frozen peaches can be substituted for the fresh peaches in this recipe. If you use canned, use ¼ cup of the juice in the recipe. If you are using fresh or frozen peaches, puree half a peach with 2 Tablespoons of water in a blender or food processer and that will make about ¼ cup of puree. Add additional water if necessary.

In a big bowl, whisk the egg, cream, extract and juice/puree until frothy. In another bowl, blend all the dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter until you have crumbles. Add the liquid and gently mix. Fold in the peaches. Turn the dough onto a floured surface. If the dough is sticky, knead in a little extra flour, but the less you handle the dough the better the scones! Shape into two rounds ½ inch thick. Cut into wedges and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. If you like a crunchy top, brush them with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar and slivered almonds before baking.

S is for the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail

S is for the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail in Southern Illinois!   In 1995 I had the pleasure of working with a group of three local winery owners to create the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail ... which now has a dozen wineries!  The region is designated an American Vitacultural Area just like the well-known Sonoma Valley!  We make good wine ... and we love it at our house!

I'm liking with Alphabet Thursday, so make sure you click through the button to visit all the other posts!  First, make sure you take a look at my delicious wine photographs.  You can also visit the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail by clicking through the link in the first line of this post!  Enjoy!


It isn't hard for me to find pictures of things that make me smile!  I'm linking to Chef Laurie's Yum Yum Party, so make sure youPosted by Picasavisit the The Turner Farm to see all the other party posts!

  1. Don't you just love my fancy fried balogna sandwiches?
  2. How about persimmon bread?  Just the thought of a bitter persimmon making me pucker ... makes me laugh!
  3. Then there are fresh strawberries from Southern Illinois' Flamm Orchard ... and strawberry wine from our favorite Pomona Vineyard ... made with Flamm strawberries!  Oh, yum, yum!
  4. Here's a picture from my Chocolate party last summer.   All my girlfriends gathered on the deck for a fabulous meal ... using chocolate in every course.   They sat in a gentle rain storm ... wouldn't go in the house ... and finally it thundered and came an absolute downpour ... and everybody ran inside!  Trust me ... we were laughing!
  5. Then ... there's my precious Miss Phoebe!  We haven't had much snow this year ... but she certainly has enjoyed playing in it!  My daughter has a perfect video of her daddy teaching her how to make snowballs ... and she throws each one at him!

Soup-a-Palooza ... A Soup Party!

Tidy Mom

Come join Soup-a-Palooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by

That's what I'm doing today ... and I hope you enjoy my soup recipes.  I guarantee that they are yummy!

 Sweet Potato Soup with Turnip Greens

2 quarts ham stock
Smoked pork neck bones or ham hocks
1 small sweet onion
1 rib celery
3 sweet potatoes
1 Tablespoon dried sweet red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon red chili pepper paste
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
¼ teaspoon powdered sage
4 – 6 cups torn turnip greens

In a large soup pot, prepare the stock by boiling 2 smoked ham hocks or several smoked pork neck bones in 3 quarts of water. Gently boil the stock until it reduces by about one third. Peel and chop the onion, celery and sweet potatoes and add them to the stock. Season with the dried peppers, pepper paste, garlic, parsley and sage. Cover the pot, and gently simmer the soup until the vegetables are tender. When the soup is done, turn off the burner, add the greens and put the lid back on the pot. Within five minutes, the greens will be the perfect consistency. Season the soup with salt and hot sauce, if desired. (Any type of greens are perfect in this soup. I always remove the stems from greens and chop them according to the thickness of the leaves. If they are thick, chop or tear them in smaller pieces.)

Yellow Squash and Corn Chowder with Southern Illinois Prawns
(Yes, we pond raise prawns ... and you can use any kind of shrimp!)

½ pound Southern Illinois prawns, peeled and deveined
2 cups corn kernels
2 cups chopped yellow squash
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups clam juice or fish stock
1 pint half and half
1 stick butter
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
½ cup instant mashed potato flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, gently sauté the celery, bell pepper and onion in the butter until the vegetables start to wilt. Add the squash and corn and continue to sauté, stirring frequently, until the squash is tender. Stir in the cilantro, garlic and Old Bay seasoning and stir until the seasoning is dispersed. Add the clam juice and half and half. Gently simmer the soup for five minutes. Add the prawns and simmer for an additional five minutes. Thicken the soup by stirring in the mashed potato flakes. Turn off the burner and cover the pot. If the chowder isn’t thick enough, additional mashed potato flakes may be added in small portions. Garnish with additional chopped cilantro. (It takes just a few minutes for shrimp or prawns to cook, so adding them at the end reserves their tenderness.)

Red Kitchen Gadgets!

Since almost everything in this post is RED ... I hope it's ok if I repost it with Rednesday at It's a Very Cherry World!  Be sure to click through to visit all the other red posts!  Thanks to our hostess!

Original Post - February 14, 2011:

You probably know that I spend lots of time in my kitchen!  I cook dinner almost every night;  entertain at least once a month;  can and freeze all kinds of things ... in season;  cook for my two monthly newspaper columns; cook for all the photo shoots in the quarterly magazine I publish on my job!  I need ... and love ... gadgets.

My 30 year old Osterizer stand mixer ... that had all the attachments ... croaked last summer.  I treated myself to a new Kitchen Aid Pro about a month ago ... and my husband made me buy all the available attachments!  You'll see the results of the pasta maker ... and the sausage maker in future posts! 

Posting Again - Online Magazine

Hey!  I'm posting my online magazine again ... just in case you are ready to move beyond Valentines Day!  All this snow makes me ready for spring ... and I'm planning my St. Pat's day party ... so I'm thinking GREEN!

I'm linking to Sunday Favorites ... so make sure you click through the button on the left to visit the other party posts!  Special thanks to our hostess!

Original 1/25/11 post:

Hi!  I'm posting with Tell Me Tuesday to share my new online magazine!  Hope you enjoy!  Thanks to our hostess and make sure you click through to visit the party.

Pink Valentines for Saturday!

One more Valentine meal at our house this year ... a quick little brunch in the back sunroom.  The table is all set, but if the outside temperature stays in the single digits, it will be too cold in that room, so I'll move it inside! 

Everything is pink.  I've used Depression Glass cake platters as chargers, then a ruffled white plate, a bright pink heart ... and a little ruffled heart-shaped ramekin that will hold shirred eggs. 

I have heart shaped mini muffin pans and we'll have blueberry muffins to go with the eggs and fresh fruit!  We'll also have champagne mimosas made with passion fruit juice instead of orange juice ... so they'll even be pink!

Be sure to click thru Pink Saturday to see all the party posts! 

"R" is for Raines - My Maiden Name!

"R" is for Raines ... that's my maiden name.  Here are the folks that made me possible.  Doris and Jim are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary here ... and they were married 67 years ... when Mother died.  They were an interesting couple ... five kids ... never apart with exception of his WWII service ... and seldom passed a day without squabbling over something!  They mastered the art of squabbling ... and something was right about it  ... because they had a long marriage!  They were devout Southern Baptist ... believed in taking care of folks who needed help ... and never hesitated to "whip our butts" if we were bad in church!  I am their baby child, spoiled rotten ... and proud of it!  In this picture, Mother's life had already been taken over by Alzheimer's ... but she enjoyed our little party and was still pretty healthy, otherwise.

On Valentine's Day, I will make a visit to their gravesite.  In their elder years, Daddy started buying mother a single red rose on Valentines Day.  After she died, he continued his tradition and we laid the rose on her grave.  I stood at her grave the first time we did that and promised him that I would always do it after he was gone.  He and I shared one more Valentines Day together ...
and now I go by myself. 

Happy Valentines Day Mother and Daddy!

I've linked to Alphabet Thursday, so make sure you click through the
button on the left to enjoy the other posts!

Tablescapes & Parties!

Here's our second Valentine table of the season and we'll have one more brunch table to go!  I'm linking to Tablescape Thursdays, Inspiration Friday, the Colors of Love party, the Valentine Party ... and Seasonal Sundays ... so make sure you  click through the buttons on the left to visit all the party posts.    I'm also linking to Bargain Hunting with Laurie's Valentine Party, so click thru to visit her site.  Special thanks to all the hostesses ... for taking their time to provide the perfect ways for us to show off our creativity.

Almost everything on this table came from the grocery store!  Can you believe that the polka dot dishes ... and the champagne glasses came from the supermarket?  The pink glasses are Fostoria ... the little bread and butter plates came from Cracker Barrel .. .and the crystal hearts (that I'll use for salt) are Mikassa, but I bought 2 dozen of them at their outlet store for $1 each!  This is kind of a bargain basement tablescape!

I composed the centerpiece with some cute wooden things from HL, but the rattan standing mailbox and the white basket that holds it all ... came from Goodwill!  It's an eclectic setting ... filling with things I love!


New Yum Party!

I'm joining the new weekly "YUM" party at The Turner Farm!   The Farm Girl, Laurie, found me ... and I'm so glad she did.  She's my kind of friend ... a chef who collects rolling pins.  Her linky party should be fun.  I can always find things that make me smile ... and that's what the party is all about!  Click through and join in the fun.

#1 - Our precious grandbaby posing for her
4th birthday pictures! 

#2 - Miss Phoebe in the Candy Canes at our
Holiday Lights Fair

#3 - The Pink Snow Angel

#4 - Helping Gwamma open a
Birthday Present!

#5 - Miss Phoebe makes us Smile Everyday! 
What a face!

Hearts on the Plate!

It's pretty easy to turn almost anything in a special Valentine meal!  Here's a couple poached eggs on top of my homemade corned beef hash.  I have a cute little heart-shaped poacher insert ... so it was pretty easy.

To make the hash, gently fry 2 cups of potatoes, cut into small cubes ... with 1 cup chopped onion and 1/2 cup chopped celery.  Add 2 cups of chopped corned beef (already cooked leftovers or from the deli).  Add 1/2 cup water or beef broth and cover the skillet.  Let the hash steam for a few minutes, then remove the lid and let the liquid steam away.  Season with generous salt, pepper,  a dash of cumin powder, garlic powder and an additional Tablespoon of dried minced onion.  Serve with poached eggs.

Then, later in the evening for dessert ... we had regular old lemon bars, but  I chose to cut them with a heart cookie cutter ... top them with a little cherry heart candy ... and sprinkle with a little powdered sugar.

I'm linking to the Valentine's Party and to the Hart to Hart Party ... so make sure you click through the buttons on the left to visit the other posts.  Thanks to our party hostesses!

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