Favorites of the Week

I’m back again with a bunch of totally disconnected bits and pieces that piqued my interest this week. I hope you have as much fun as I did!

Home decor
  • While looking for wire plate stands that hold more than one plate, I discovered this gorgeous plate holder at Bed Bath and Beyond. I don’t need it, but it’s beautiful and someone among my French decor friends must have to have it to complete her look!
Click into photo for source.

Click into photo for source.

  • Click into photo for post and source.

    Click into photo for blog post and source.

    I asked Nan from Silver Magpies a question about storing my silver in plastic, and ran across her holiday post about less-than-perfect silver candlesticks. As she says, “they still are perfectly functional, but have suffered some bumps and bashes. There is a lovely term, borrowed from Japanese, being used in the design community to describe this aesthetic — wabi sabi. Perfectly imperfect is a very short description.” I have a couple of silver pieces that are wabi sabi and are difficult to actually use because they are really wobbly. I did find a local silversmith in Wilmette who says that he can fix my broken candlesticks, so for those of you who are local, I’ll keep you posted!

  •  As a person who has a mostly love and a little bit of hate relationship with being the family repository for genealogical information, photos, and family dishes and accessories, Alycia’s Gallery Wall gave me a fresh insight and attitude about how important “things” are to our memories. Please take the time to read her entire post and look at her photos of her wall of love.
Click into photo for blog post and source.

Click into photo for blog post and source.

  • I loved the color on the walls of this master bedroom, and got sucked into the story of how Terry changed up these two bedrooms. I still don’t know the color of the walls, but I’m going to ask her!
Click into photo for post and source.

Click into photo for blog post and source.

 Reading off-line
Favorite viewing
  • I watched The Other Boleyn Girl, an adaptation of Phillippa Gregory’s novel of the same name. I’ve always been fascinated by how the trainwreck that was the Tudor ascendancy to the throne and the tumultuous reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII resulted in the relatively tolerant and stable rule of Queen Elizabeth I. Phillippa Gregory’s novel is well-adapted, but unfortunately its history is pretty speculative. Gregory herself discusses her enjoyment of writing a book about a lesser-known character in history on her web site (here). Despite its historical inaccuracies, the locations and costumes make this worth watching for the Anglophile and costume drama lover.
  • You may be watching Grantchester, which comes on in our market on PBS after Downton Abbey. Its intriguing and lovable star, James Norton, also had a lead role in a scary-but-fabulous miniseries ironically called Happy Valley. It’s on Netflix, and I binge-watched the last four of the six episodes at one seating. Totally recommend!
Travel lust
  • We visited Highclere Castle this fall — the place where Downton Abbey is filmed. This post from Highclere shows how you too can be treated like a Lady with a capital L for your wedding!

I hope you’ve had a wonderful week and are looking forward to another great one to come. Happy Saturday!

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Sideboard Love

I was very slow to take down my Christmas sideboard decor, as I loved it so much this year.

Angel Sideboard Got My ReservationsIt was TIME. Really. So out came the pink for Valentine’s Day.

Staffordshire Cup and Saucer Got My Reservations

Staffordshire Cup and Saucer

Stargazer Lily Got My Reservations

My favorite Valentine flower, the Stargazer Lily

Cupid Violinist Got My Reservations

This little figure captures what’s important in our home — our love of music and each other.

IMG_9701 Got My Reservations

A simple grouping, but every piece has a love story behind it.

Stay tuned for Thursday’s pink tablescape! Since I finally put away all the Christmas decor, my table is ready to move on to the next holiday and more pink.

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Favorites of the Week

Sometimes I have things to share that are short and don’t really need a full blog post. My niece Jessie does a Saturday wrap-up post that I always enjoy, so I decided to try it myself. I hope you like my random thoughts. :)

Favorite photos

I joined a photography challenge called the 365 Project and have been posting photos daily. The point is to actually take photos every day and get some feedback to improve your photography. I have to admit that I’m not always perfect about posting that day’s photo. Sometimes I get nothing and resort to “filler” shots from previous days, but it’s my project and I can make my own rules. Right? Here’s a couple of my favorites from the last few weeks.

I have taken many photos of this little girl (with her parents’ permission, of course), and she’s always wary of the crazy camera lady. I thought this shot captured her wariness perfectly.

Click into photo to link to my 365 Project.

Click into photo to link to my 365 Project.

We’ve been having a whale of a snowy winter here in Chicagoland. Many of my photos were about snow over the last month.

Click into photo for a link to my 365 Project.

Click into photo for a link to my 365 Project.

 Home decor inspirations

I was looking for a dough bowl on ebay and ran across this one. Someone needs this — not me, but someone out there! Can you imagine the fun tablescape you could create with this cute piggy?

Click into photo for source.

Click into photo for source.

We’ve seen countless tutorials and blog posts about how to dress your mantel (Please check your spelling, folks, when talking about the flat space above your fireplace. It’s not a mantle, it’s a mantel.) The same ideas can be used for decorating your sideboard, which is how I plan to use this tutorial. I don’t have a fireplace. Sniff.

Click into photo for source.

Click into photo for source.

I’ve been sorting and rearranging my kitchen after reading The Art of Tidying (see my post about the book), and one of the things I did was to put my Pyrex casserole dishes on a rack standing on their sides. They don’t stack on top of each other risking breakage and I don’t have to drag out the whole heavy stack when I want just one dish. The author of the Tidying book is Japanese and gives animate characteristics to inanimate objects. She says that no one wants to have all that heavy weight stacked on top of her — it’s both a literal and figurative message, isn’t it? Here’s a link to similar racks from The Container Store.

Casserole Rack

New recipes I tried
Click into photo for recipe.

Click into photo for recipe.

I saw Giada de Laurentis make this Halibut Poached in Olive Oil with Broccoli Rabe Pesto on the Cooking Channel and I tried it for our supper. I was only interested in the broccoli pesto, which I made with regular broccoli and almonds and planned to use as a side dish for steak. I think that next time I’ll roast the garlic first, as it was a little overpowering in a side dish. Or possibly I “might” have added extra cloves of garlic that the recipe did not call for which made it pretty tangy. Either way, roasted garlic would be yummy with this and the color was beautiful on the plate.

I had some leftover bits of shrimp and scallops in the freezer that needed to be used up, so I made Seafood Crepes with Mornay Sauce. It’s not the first time I’ve used this recipe, but it’s been a while. It’s a little time consuming but worth every yummy minute (and calorie). I’ve had the leftovers for breakfast the last two days!

Click into photo for source and recipe.

Click into photo for source and recipe.

 Favorite off-line reading

For Book Club on Monday, I led the discussion about The Lavender Keeper by Fiona McIntosh. Set in France during the German WWII occupation, it is a touching love story in the midst of espionage and resistance. After reading the reviews, you will know that you should get both The Lavender Keeper and its sequel, The French Promise. You will want to read both back to back to get the whole story.

So that was my week — it didn’t seem all that busy when I actually experienced it. :)

I appreciate your support of my affiliate connection with Amazon and hope that you will click into my links if you decide to purchase something based on my recommendation. Please see my advertising disclosure for details.

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Book Talk: Tidying and Memorizing

Today I’m going to talk about a book and about a family story. The book made a real impact on me, and it cleared the way for me to memorialize a family story without keeping the artifact. That’s what this book is all about.

Tidying Up Book

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Foodie Friday: Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar

Here in Chicago we have many wonderful restaurants and it’s often hard to choose where to go for a special event. We had such a choice recently when our son and daughter-in-law were in town and we wanted to have a family dinner. When the Michelin Guide 2014 Recommended Union Sushi and Barbeque Bar popped up in the discussion, I was sold. It’s one of my all-time favorites.

Click into photo for source

Click into photo for source

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It’s Time for a Holiday Photo Op!

We’ve been really busy around here with holiday decorating, entertaining, and house guests. All that exciting activity meant that I didn’t have a whole lot of time for blogging, but I have a few photos to share as we go careening into 2015.

Got My Reservations -- Christmas Pudding

We enjoyed a traditional British Christmas pudding.

I decorated with an angel theme this year — angels everywhere!

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Angel

I spent a fun day at my favorite local store, photographing vignettes for the black and white challenge that was going around on Facebook. Thanks to Lucky Junk for the photo ops.

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The vintage colors of these babies look better than the black and white.

I also took a photo trip around Pier One, doing a study of multiples with my new lens.

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This isn’t exactly a multiple, but the frosty place setting caught my eye.

DSC01215 DSC01216 DSC01223 DSC01219We are looking forward to another wonderful string of days over the next week as we entertain and are entertained. Our guest rooms are being primped and I’m doing a lot of menu planning. I love cooking appetizers that we usually don’t allow ourselves to indulge in other times of the year, such as bacon-wrapped dates.

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Click into photo for source

Before I sign off for 2014, I’m sharing the best recipe I tried over the holiday season.

I actually made these all in one morning, but I wish I had done the overnight thing on Christmas Eve as planned. They were awesome, nonetheless, and a crowd pleaser for our Christmas brunch.

I hope you all have a wonderful finale to your December and I’ll see you in 2015!

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Roasted Chicken – the Awesome Budget Stretching Food

Every time I roast a chicken, I am reminded that there’s a reason chickens are awesome.

I had seven people over for dinner last Friday, and chose two plump roasters at my butcher shop. Out the door, less than ten dollars.

Click into photo for recipe and source

Click into photo for recipe and source

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Share: How to make dish flowers

I ran across the tutorial on Facebook and it’s really a good one. I’ve always loved the look of the glass flowers I see at markets and in other people’s gardens.

http://www.fleamarketgardening.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Louise-Yuncks-flowers..peek-a-boo.jpg?e768a3

Click into photo for tutorial and image credit

The article from Flea Market Gardening makes it seem pretty easy to make garden ornaments out of old dishes. I’ve never done this since I never met a dish I didn’t want to put on my table, but this tutorial makes me hopeful. Enjoy!

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The Saturday Review: Wine and Cheese

downloadWhen I’m traveling in my car, I usually choose light cozy books in which I’m unlikely to be shocked by overt sex and graphic language, since one can hear my speakers outside of my car if I’m at an intersection or in a parking lot. That was one of the reasons I chose The Merlot Murders by Ellen Crosby; it looked interesting but also safe. I was also intrigued by the idea of a book based in Virginia’s wine country, rather than California or France. My choice did not disappoint; it’s an easy murder mystery with enough intrigue and surprise built into the plot to keep me guessing. The book is the first of a series about Lucie Montgomery and her family’s winery, and I was encouraged enough by the first book to go on to the second. The Chardonnay Charade was just what I expected — another cozy murder mystery with a little romantic spice built into the story. Thank goodness my library has the books so I don’t have to keep buying them; I just put holds on the other four titles and will enjoy spinning through them over the next few weeks. Continue reading

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