Appetizer Tray Using Grandma’s Silver

I’ve been thinking about rebranding my blog. A lot of thinking and rethinking. Then Kim at Curtain Queen Creates commented on the name of one of my former blogs and I went back to look at my posts there. It was like going through a closet full of old but beloved clothing. I really don’t want to throw out the old posts, so I decided to repost them here for the time being. Don’t be surprised by the various names on the photos — those are some of my older blog names.

And if there’s a name you really like, let me know. Maybe I’ll rebrand by using an old name — isn’t that the prerogative of a woman of a certain age?

Reblogged from February 20, 2013

Sometimes the simplest things are the best.IMG_7218B

Slap some baby carrots and whatever veggies you have in the house in some bowls or ramekins and add some purchased guacamole. Put them on Grandma’s silver platter (or your thrift shop treasure) and Voila! You have a healthy appetizer for the family as they wait for dinner to be ready. Or a snack if a friend drops by. There is no end to what you can do to make a party with a piece of silver.

There’s no reason not to use your silver. Every day.

GotMyReservations Coffee Thank You Sign Off

The Countdown Begins with Worship and Music

Advent is the time of preparation for Christmas; Christians are told in scripture to prepare for the coming of Christ. In the Empty Nest, Advent will also be a time of preparation for a glorious celebration with family and friends during the Christmas holidays. There are many traditions of Christmas that we celebrate which are connected to our religious beliefs, but there are also many things we will do over the next twenty-five days that are all about our secular celebrations.

25 Days of Christmas 2013 Intro

I’m okay with both the sacred and the secularity of Christmas, and that’s what I’m going to be sharing with you during my 25 Days of Christmas 2013 countdown. We are an Empty Nest where the birds will all come home for the holidays for the first time. I talked about my hopes for grace and patience here.

GotMyReservations-Advent WreathAs in life, some days are glorious and awe-inspiring and others are just full of work. I’m going to talk about both types of activities throughout the series. I hope that you will follow along as we clean and decorate, go to church, perform in and attend concerts, go out to dinner, and prepare meals in our home — the normal events in life that lead us closer and closer to Christmas.

Today we celebrated the first Sunday in Advent at church, and watched as two young families lit the first candle of Advent. We remembered the first time our little family participated in a similar service, and our four-year-old daughter read the prayer. It was enough to make the Empty Nest cry to think about that day.

This afternoon we enjoyed a brass concert with many different styles of carols and songs offered by five different brass groups. One of the people in the audience asked if we actually used the pipe organ in our sanctuary, and I assured her that we certainly did — along with our praise band, our folk service, our big band Sunday, our youth services, and our newest additions, masterworks Sunday, which featured strings, choir with pipe organ, and brass quintet. We are an equal opportunity musical church. ūüôā¬†Here’s a beautiful rendition of the¬†Hallelujah Chorus¬†with pipe organ and brass quintet to get you in the mood for Christmas!

I’m ready to get ready for Christmas; will you join me?

Got my bags, got my reservations,
Spent each dime I could afford.
Like a child in wild anticipation,
I long to hear that, ‚ÄúAll aboard!‚ÄĚ

Music and lyrics by Bud Green, Les Brown and Ben Homer (1944)

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Monday, Monday — Can’t Trust Myself with a Refrigerator Filled with Leftovers

It’s Monday and it’s Twinkie Day — but not in my house. It’s leftover week at the Farm.

Thankfully, Twinkies are not one of the things that float my culinary boat.Unfortunately, there are too many other foods that do, and many of them are residing in my fridge right now.


I threw myself a birthday party on Saturday with about thirty of our closest friends attending. They are more like family than friends — we love each other, we fight with each other, we confide in each other, we travel together, and we raise each other’s children and grandchildren as needed. And we love to eat — thus the loaded refrigerator.

In the privacy of my own kitchen after everyone has gone and Music Man has gone back to work, I can go back to the leftovers and savor them.

The Metro Potato Salad from Mariano’s — red potatoes with the skins still on, dill, eggs, finely chopped celery for crunch, a little vinegar for acid and lots and lots of mayo. Heaven. I have to portion it out carefully so that I don’t eat two cups of it at one sitting.

The hot wings are happily congealed in all their greasy goodness in Tupperware. I made them from some leftover frozen wings and some leftover roasted chicken from another party. Nobody ate the legs and the wings at the other party, so I bundled them up and froze them. I knew they’d make a good quick appetizer for another event and there they were in my freezer when I needed them. I put some fresh BBQ sauce on them and threw them in the crockpot and we were in business. At five or six pieces per sitting, I’ll get four happy meals out of those leftovers. Can’t help but smile when I think about it.

And then there’s the veggie cassoulet. It was an experiment which I’ll share later on this week and boy, is it good. There’s at least five servings of beans left in the fridge, too. Mmmm…

The leftover cheese is almost gone already — I needed a quick jolt of fatty protein after church yesterday, after all — and the rest of the vat of iced tea I’m finishing as I write. I took the leftover cookies to church, so they’re not around to tempt us, but we’ve still got fruit salad for an army. When I say army, I probably mean two sixty-something adults who live on fruit salad this time of year. It won’t last long, either.

Got My Reservations -- Grilled Beef

We grilled up all the leftover shish-ke-bob meat last night and froze it on trays so that it can be pulled from the freezer in individual batches; I envision salads topped with marinated chicken breast pieces, beef stroganoff, and maybe some pork-fried rice coming out of those leftovers. There’s a lot that can be done with leftovers — try this fab recipe from my archives.

Leftovers a la Pastitsio

I read somewhere that people are entertaining at home again. Maybe leftovers are why.

Sh-t Happens

Sorry to be so graphic, but it’s true.

You’ve all experienced it. You plan and plan and something still goes wrong.

I’ve been watching the Next Food Network Star program on DVR about a week behind and it really hit me that entertaining is a crap shoot. Sometimes things go as planned, and sometimes the universe disconnects your microphone. And I went on the Food Network site to give you a link and found out that my favorite had been eliminated. Shuckey darns.

We can all be Food Stars if we want to be.

The other night we had some people over to celebrate my birthday. It’s part of the ongoing feast that I hope to continue for the next 30 years. I was blessed with gifts of food and drink from friends who contributed from their hearts, and the support of my husband and daughter.

But stuff happens.

After weeks of drought, between 5:00 and 7:00 there were spurts of rain. Why??? Because I planned an outside party. That’s why.

While waiting in the garage for the rain to stop, I tripped over a stack of portable chairs in bags and grabbed the garage door frame, which is lubricated with lithium grease. To get it off, I had to use nail polish remover, ruining my manicure. I had to leave the arriving guests to make repairs.

We had to put all of the tables, linens, flowers, and candles on the patio AFTER the guests had arrived — and the “putting” was done by the guests. The thought fills me with horror — guests aren’t supposed to have to do the work (unless you are a guest at Martha Stewart’s). One guest found my hurricane candles and put them on the tables; another filled the vases with roses. The men pitched in and put up all the tables, and tried valiantly to figure out my plan for the table coverings.

The catered main dish didn’t heat up as quickly as the caterer said it would. So we served more drinks.

Music Man (otherwise know as Saint Tom) dropped the pasta dish in the oven. Thank goodness pasta is indestructible. No real problem.

It’s better to have entertained than not to have tried.

Apparently people were having fun or were well-enough lubricated with beer, sangria and Pimms to be oblivious to the crises happening. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, even the friends who pitched in to make things happen.

I believe in the nobility of entertaining people and I take great, great pride that people are willing to give me two or three hours of their busy lives.
~~~ John Lasseter

I turned on the oven tonight to heat up the leftover Pork Normandy and it smelled like oven cleaner.

All of the oven racks were on the bottom of the oven — a reminder that I slept through the cleanup of the party. Truly, I am married to a saint, and the smell quickly was replaced by the amazing aroma of the Calvados sauce.

I am blessed that people were not only willing to come to my party, but were willing to help. ¬†There’s room in my heart for a few more parties.

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