Floral Vignette with Antique Mirror

I've been collecting little things all summer from our junk store jaunts ... to create a floral vignette in one of my bathrooms. The bathroom "fall leaves" wallpaper is old and I will never change it because I love it! Fall leaves are sometimes hard to decorate around ... it is kind of "one season only" ... so I create a little vignette when I want to make a change! Last week, I found a beautiful antique tabletop mirror and that made me finally finish this little project! Isn't it a beauty? Everything in this vignette, excepts the books and the candle came from our junk jaunts!

I love all these things, but my favorite might be this crewel of violets ... just because I love violets!  The two framed crewels started the concept. I paid a big paper dollar for each of them! Then I found four Bradford Exchange collectible plates at Goodwill and paid a dollar for each of them!  What deals I was finding!  The vintage looking doll booklet was another dollar and the bunny, yet another dollar! I sure wasn't spending much!

The plates are truly Victorian looking, and I love that style ... though I have just one room in my house where it works ... and only because I have antique bedroom furniture!  So, why not incorporate a little Victorian look in this "fall only" bathroom!?

You'll notice some pretty ribbons in these pictures! I'll be using lots of it in the future because I bought a big box of ribbon from an old florist that closed thirty years ago! I guess that makes it vintage ribbon!

I love this mirror and suspect it is from a little while after the Art Nouveau period. It is molded wood, which was first produced in these kinds of vanity mirrors by the Syracuse Ornamental Company in 1890. They called it Soroco Wood ... and they continued to make these kinds of products through the 1940s and finally shifted to molding plastic in the 1960s. The mirror glass is slightly faded, which confirms its probable age back to the 1940s. It is certainly a stand-out piece of decor and you'll see it in future posts! I have lots of plans for this little mirror!

There you have it!  My junkin' decor! I'll be sharing this with a few of the parties listed on my side bar, but before you move on ... browse my home page! You'll find other posts that might interest you.

Shrimp and Tomato Blast!

At my house, shrimp is "fast food"!  I really enjoy throwing together quick pasta or stir-fry meals using big shrimp. The tomatoes from our CSA have been so colorful and delicious, I've been putting them in many things. You'll see another post in a few days about other ways to use those tomatoes! This recipe is really easy! I don't heavily sauce recipes like this one. I want the fresh vegetable flavors to come blasting through!

The ingredients included chopped onions, chopped green pepper, a few cherry tomatoes sliced in half ... a few 16 count shrimp and a couple cups of cooked pasta. I quickly fried the green peppers and onions in a little olive oil ... and let the onions caramelize. I added the shrimp and turned them just once. It just takes a few minutes for them to be done. Then I dropped in the tomatoes and let them burst in the sizzling olive oil. I stirred in a Tablespoon of tomato paste and about a cup of the cooking liquid from the pasta, which made a nice light coating for everything. A couple grinds of fresh pepper and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese ... and the meal was complete!

I'll be sharing this post with some of the parties listed in my side bar, but stick around my home page before you move on. You might find another recipe you like!

Rosemary Lemon Chicken

It was 98 degrees today in Southern Illinois, so that meant time for the crockpot again! I had a Sunday of reading planned ... trying to get started on the 7th book of the Outlander series ... so cooking inside or outside was not on my Sunday agenda!

This recipe is so good. It does take a little prep time, but within 30 minutes I was out of the kitchen! I used bone in chicken pieces (with skin) that I'd already cut up and frozen ... and thawed overnight in the refrigerator. Dredge the chicken in a light coating of flour and pan fry it in a little olive oil ... turning it one time ... and frying it just long enough to put some  color on the skin. Place each piece in the crock pot and try to make a single layer. I drizzled a couple Tablespoons of the pan juices/oil over the meat, ground a generous amount of white pepper over the meat, then topped each piece of chicken with a slice of lemon and tossed in several sprigs of Rosemary. Miss Phoebe's blue chair garden is really producing! Add a cup of chicken stock to the bottom of the pot ... cover the crockpot and turn it on high. This usually takes about 3 hours, depending upon the size of the pieces. 

This week's CSA share provided these great purple string beans, more colorful potatoes and sweet onions. I cooked those in my little crock pot with a small piece of smoked pork and plenty of ground pepper! I covered them with water and since this wasn't a big batch and it took less than two hours to be deliciously tender.

The sauce remaining in the crock pot is perfect to serve over rice, noodles or even mashed potatoes. It also makes a really good base for lemon chicken soup, so mine went right to the freezer for a snowy day next winter, when I'll be complaining about the cold temperatures!

I'll share this post with a few of the parties listed in my sidebar. Make sure you stick around my home page a little while to check out other recipes!

Roasted Eggplant Dip

A beautiful deep aubergine eggplant was included in my CSA bag, and I wanted to do something kind of special with it. Eggplant is delicious grilled, but I wanted to savor it and not just gobble it up! I decided to make dip with it, so I could nibble on it over a couple days and really enjoy it!

I sliced the eggplant and a cut a green bell pepper into quarters; drizzled them in lemon infused olive oil and grilled them ... to obtain a pretty char and a wonderful smokey flavor.

The recipe is so simple and can be adjusted to suit your tastes. I blended the vegetables with 1/4 cup of sour cream, 1/4 cup of Tahini, a Tablespoon of sundried tomatoes, salt and pepper ... and several leaves of fresh mint.

The flavor of this dip is delightful ... intense ... every bite bursts with smoky, nutty freshness!  I'll share this post with a few of the blog parties listed in my sidebar ... but stick around my homepage for awhile!  You'll find other things you like!  Enjoy!

Fried Purple Potatoes!

I have always had "one of those faces" ... When I'm in the grocery store, I am sometimes stopped ... especially by college students ... and asked how to prepare something. That has ranged from "how to cut up a chicken" to "how to fry potatoes"!  There is a trick to frying good potatoes. I decided I'd post more purple potatoes that came from the CSA project, so I fried a couple with a white potato.  My mother used to keep potatoes boiled and refrigerated, so when she needed to fry them, it wouldn't take as long. These were fried from the raw state.

If you wash your sliced potatoes, make sure you shake them dry. The water on the potatoes will cause the oil to splatter when you drop them in the skillet. Slice them thin and drop them in preheated hot oil. Immediately turn the burner down to medium, and put a lid on the skillet. This lets the potatoes steam so they get tender. Leave the lid on for a few minutes, then remove it and turn the potatoes over. You'll know if you need to steam them for a longer period of time. If you can't stick a fork through the potato slice, put the lid back on for a few minutes. I always add chopped onion to my fried potatoes. Put the onion in the skillet at the same time you put the potatoes in. After the potatoes are done, turn the burn heat on high again and finish the potatoes with some quick browning. Salt and pepper them. Add a little fresh dill, if you'd like.

Pork Marsala

I love anything prepared with Marsala wine! I didn't want to cook ... but I did! I wanted to prepare a meal and a second meal for the freezer! Out came my crock pot!

This meal is simple to put together. I simply layered pork tenderloin chops (which I always cut and freeze myself ... from a whole loin) - with chopped onion and a lot of sliced mushrooms! I had those beautiful baby carrots, so I added them to the pot.  I seasoned this with a few pieces of a garlic scapes I've been using for a month! My garlic scapes came in my CSA bag from the Southern Illinois University Agriculture students! You can use garlic paste, of course.  I added several grinds of black pepper and a good sprinkle of chopped parsley and you are almost ready! I poured 1 1/2 cups of beef broth over the whole thing and set the crock pot on high. It  cooked for 3 hours and the meat was fork tender.  I don't add the wine until the last 30 minutes of cooking and I use it to make a corn starch slurry ... 1 cup of Marsala wine with 3 Tablespoons of corn starch. Put the lid back on the crock pot and let it cook so the broth thickens.

I'll be sharing this post with a few of the blog parties listed in my sidebar, but make sure you stick around my home page for a little while.  You might find another recipe you like!  Yes ... you can make this with chicken breasts and I don't use veal anymore, but the broth is wonderful over tender beef.

Purple Potato Bread!

I've been getting little purple potatoes in my CSA bag, and I decided to make a loaf of bread using some of them ... just to see how neat it would be! I used my bread machine and the recipe follows. I left part of the peels on the potatoes when I boiled and mashed them, so little bits would show up in the texture of the bread! I love it!

Mashed Potato Bread

1 cup water from boiling the potatoes - at room temperature
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/4 cup white bread flour
1 1/2 cups cold mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
Begin by pouring the water and oil into the bread pan. Next, add the flour, salt, sugar and milk powder (or powdered creamer). Add the yeast and then add the mashed potatoes. Bake according to your machine's instructions. This makes a large loaf and I used the white bread setting.

Just look at those little purple specks! This bread is delicious. The texture is gooey and soft and the crust is crispy!

I'll be sharing this with a few blog parties, so make sure you click through to visit!

Give me Galvanized!

I love the country look of galvanized metal and I've been using it in the sunroom and on the deck for several seasons, but this year I decided to bring it into the kitchen! This buffet section of my kitchen is used just as that -- but when I'm not serving food or drinks from it -- it serves as a cute space to decorate! The most important member of my family, Miss Phoebe, recently created the hanging pages as demonstrations of art lessons for me. They will be used in Christmas presents ... she says!

This particular vignette started with this pretty red bean pot that my daughter gave me for Christmas. It is the perfect size for scaled down casseroles and stews for my empty nest! Then I found a couple matching pitchers. Here's a look at other elements of the clutter!

You cannot possibly have a galvanized theme without a tiered tray!

I coveted other bloggers' tiered trays and finally bought one this spring so I could use it to display lots of cute little things! This tiered tray came from Sam's Club.

The flat trays and the beverage dispenser came from Walmart.

Take a look at all these cuties!

The nested patriotic star shaped bowls are Temptations from QVC. My life is incomplete without pigs, so you'll see them in much of what I do!

Hope you enjoyed my afternoon of country fun! I'll be sharing with a couple parties listed in my sidebar, but stick around my home page before moving on. You might find a recipe you'd like to try!

Carrot Tops!

Carrot tops are so good! If you don't already know that, you'd better try them! One of the things I enjoy using them for is filling in an omelet or frittata. The flavor of carrot tops/greens is a little like parsley, a little like cilantro and a little like dill! Sure! The flavor is earthy and nutty and when you saute them with the onions for this quick omelet, they are delicious.

That's all I did ... fried a little bacon and sauteed onion slivers and chopped carrot tops in the bacon grease. Then I filled my omelet with all that and added a little cheddar cheese.  All done!  So good!

If you'd like to see a newspaper cooking column I wrote a few years ago about the use of carrot tops, click RIGHT HERE!

I'll be sharing this with a couple blog parties!  Make sure you check them out.

Grandma's Cottage Noodles

The old folks have been hanging around lately! You know what I mean? ... the folks that are long gone, but remain in our memories and dreams? I've been thinking a lot about my German grandmother ... my mother's mother. She always had something cooking in the dutch oven that was a part of her big stove. My grandparents lived just a block away from my family, so I nearly made daily trips to visit! I always enjoyed sitting in the porch swing and hearing the stories that I have been thinking about lately!

Grandma made her own cottage cheese. Her sister had a dairy farm and I didn't realize it then, but think now ... that they always had fresh milk right off the farm. Grandma also made everything else from scratch. There would never have been a box mix of any kind in her cupboard, and the noodles in this recipe would have been more like dumplings ... homemade!

The thought of making Grandma's Cottage Noodles & Cabbage began with this little Savoy Cabbage that came with my CSA produce! It was the perfect small, tender size for a couple servings.

I'm sure there are recipes online for this dish, but you don't really need accurate measurements. All you do is fry a couple pieces of bacon and remove it from the pan when it is done. Add the sliced cabbage and pan fry it until it caramelizes a little. Add a couple cups of cooked egg noodles and let them reheat in the skillet. Crumble the bacon on top and the very last thing you do is add 1 to 2 cups of creamed cottage cheese. Stir it all around. The cottage cheese will melt a little and create a really nice creamy sauce for the noodles and cabbage. You can add a little butter if you'd like, but the bacon grease is perfect seasoning for it. Salt and pepper and it is all done!

I'll be sharing this recipe with a few of the blog parties listed in my sidebar. Make sure you stick around my home page, though. You might find other recipes you like!  Enjoy this old ... and easy suppertime favorite!

Duck Tea Time!

When I first saw the invitation to participate in the Mad Tea Party at a Fanciful Twist, I knew I had to focus on one of my favorite teas! A few years ago, I attended the spectacular afternoon tea at the Memphis Peabody Hotel and the experience was only outdone by the duck parade that followed it!  Yes, if you don't know about the fantastic Memphis Peabody Hotel duck parade, you really must click through and read the details.

I emailed a whimsical invitation to a couple guests who were happy to participate!

As I started preparations, I retrieved three of my favorite ducks from my husband's collection and set a table for the ducks!

The perfect china to use for a duck tea party is Johnson Brothers' Brookshire. Brookshire features a variety of feathers and game birds and it is perfect for any masculine tablescape ... and more perfect to celebrate ducks!

Just look at some of the pretty birds!

Our menu featured some fresh produce. Wonderful cream soup made with yellow crooked neck summer squash, cucumber sandwiches with a just picked cucumber and herbs from Phoebe's little chair garden, fresh peaches added to the scones and some of the season's first blueberries in tiny tarts.

I served Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold tea, which was introduced to me by a friend from England at a tea she hosted a couple months ago.  My daughter found the tea on a big city shopping trip and I had a nice box of it in my Mother's Day gifts!

I've hosted many teas in my career of entertaining friends! I've learned that the longer you drag out the 'serving' of courses, the more fun you have!  I've also learned that it is important to set places with flatware. Too often, tea party-goers are expected to pick up things with their fingers ... and I hate that! I always want a knife, fork and spoon when I am actually eating real food! The Brookshire pattern has all kinds of extras ... the cream soup bowls are favorites of mine!

I used my faux stag handled flatware and served spritzy spa water in these pretty stemmed glasses.  The 9-inch luncheon plates were perfect for this setting and, of course, I had to use my ceramic duck napkin rings!

My tablescapes frequently include baskets, because I have zillions of them! The ducks greeted my guests cheerfully and everybody had a great time nibbling, sipping and gabbing!

I'll be sharing this post with the Mad Tea Party blog party. Just click through to visit all the other party participants!  

If you'd like to see a couple of my past tea party posts ... visit  Royal Wedding Tea Party Supper and the Music of Tea.

Paper Flowers and Baskets!

I've been using my Cricut to make paper flowers and put this wreath together just to see how cute they are! I have both the flower garden dies, and I'm primarily using them to embellish the fronts of mini scrapbooks. I saved that pretty pink ribbon from the package my sister-in-law gave me for my birthday last January! She makes the best bows!

I've also been picking up little baskets as we've jaunted from junk store to junk store this spring and summer and decided to display them on the ladder in my kitchen. I have scads of baskets and don't need another one, but I can't resist the little ones!

I may share this post with a couple of the parties in my sidebar, so make  sure you click through to visit other folks ... but stick around my home page, first!
You might find something you would enjoy.

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