Thursday, November 20, 2014

WHERE DID THIS WEEK GO?

Joss & Main

I last posted on Sunday, and then I blinked and discovered that it is now Thursday night.  I was not on hiatus or pouting or sick or anything.  I have just been very busy!!!  Making that cake last week got me on a roll. (I remembered that I actually enjoy cooking when I don't have a gun to my head.)


Doing what you ask?  Well, a bunch of things.  I wish I could tell you it was all exciting and wonderful, but in truth it was just everyday life, with thoughts  on the coming holidays.  I daydreamed and planned and then did it again.  I think the ideas have gelled.


Joss & Main


Last weekend was busy, too, and I squeezed in a couple of estate sales both days.  One of them had something I have been looking for a long time, so I was given to understand, "You can have this, but it is for Christmas!"  Fair enough.  You will have to wait till Christmas to see it, but it is in my DR already.  No, it is not the French drawleaf table.  (Boohoo)
Joss & Main


I have started planning what little I am going to do in the way of decorating and cooking for the holidays from TGV on through the New Year.  I am determined to keep it all stress free this year.  We are not having houseguests this year.  I haven't mentioned it on the blog before now because my son had asked me not to, but his engagement to the Chinese girl is over although they remain business partners.  He will be unable to come this year because of work commitments.   
Williams-Sonoma

Once I had formulated a simple plan, I went in the attic today to look around.  I found all those blooming seashells I had looked all over creation for last summer!




I also wanted to see what I had acquired at the after-Christmas sales last year.  I did remember that we hit the mother-lode one day at Hob-Lob, but I had forgotten what a score it really was!  I also found eight green goblets I bought for a song at Pier 1.  I love surprises like that.  Stay tuned.


Pottery Barn
Two of the last few days, I cooked and baked my brains out.  My freezer is rapidly filling up with sweet nutty breads.  I also smashed my little finger between the edge of the granite counter top and the butcher block edge of that heavy baking cart.  The wheels on that thing have a mind of their own apparently.  My finger is black and blue, which nicely compliments the blisters I got on a couple of other fingers from the oven.  


We have eaten a couple of batches of homemade soup this week, most of the chili and a great Schechwan chicken stir-fry today.  I have no idea if I spelled that right.  The first of the week, I tried Jenna's Roasted Butternut-Pear Soup -- it's fabulous.  Find it at The Painted Apron -- you really should try it.  Cookies are on the agenda next, along with a big batch of lasagna. 


One day, I slept till 10:30!  I guess I was tired.  I didn't do diddly the rest of that day, either.  I wore PJ's all day till time for my shower that night when I put on fresh ones.  I read blogs and magazines all day, gleaning some great ideas for food and decorating.  I finished up GRAY MOUNTAIN, and I bought the new Rick Bragg book about Jerry Lee Lewis.  Can't wait to get to it.

White House Black Market

Yesterday we did some running around, hunting and gathering. I have about finished my Christmas shopping!  Don't hate me.  Actually, it is because I am Lady Scrooge, and I am not giving many presents this year.
  
Skonahem
Today I made five more leopard pillows.  Almost done with all that.  I dug up some others in the little attic.  I have made little diagrams of my rinky-dink little breakfast nook, arranging and re-arranging on paper, because I am determined to get a Christmas tree in there.  We are planning to use only our old white tree this year, a 7-footer, but I am going to put it in an urn.  We bought some snow-flocking at Michael's to get it whiter (we hope).  Who knew white trees got so yellowish? 


While I was combing through the sea of junk mail this morning, I ran across this on Dot and Bo:



Is this not the most perfect table in the history of the world for my kitchen?  I won't be getting it, but it is perfect, you must admit...

The weather has been crazy, hasn't it?  So cold for a couple of days, now it is getting more reasonable.    I have done some other projects I will share soon.  

I hope you all have a great weekend!  You will probably all be busy, just like me.  I'll bet you are cyber-window shopping too!  That's a good thing, right?



The photos you have been looking at are from various shopping sites. I have spent some time this week looking at all the catalogs and sites.  This time of the year there are so many wonderful things to blow your money on!



  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A POTTERY BARN CHRISTMAS

Walk in the front doors and then...

Walk through these barn doors...

...and behold several fanciful tables like this one

There is even a pergola!
(This thing wouldn't last five minutes outdoors, so this is just a fantasy.)

A table is set up with pretty red dinnerware.

and some really charming accent plates I long for (don't need)

mucho Christmas trees

vignettes everywhere for inspiration

I fell in love with the little crystal bead trees illuminated with LEDs
(but not the price tag!)

This little crystal tree sparkles so beautifully atop the snazzy bar cart --

All manner of loverly ways to drop your jewels after a hard night of being gorgeous...

This red barware is screaming my name!  


Go to potterybarn.com to find the particulars on what you have seen in these photos.

I saw plenty I like -- but I didn't buy anything today.

I do hope you have had a peaceful weekend.  I've been reading GRAY MOUNTAIN by John Grisham and I went to a couple of estate sales before hitting the shops in The Summit.  Tonight it is raining cats and dogs here in Birmingham, and I have lost my satellite signal for TV.  Of course, it had to happen right in the middle of THE PARADISE!  I love these costume dramas on PBS, and it kills me when the signal goes haywire.  Sweet Husband is upstairs glued to footfall.  It is weird how the signal goes out on some of the TVs and not others, no?  There is no justice (she says, swooning.)  Get me my smelling salts.

Not linking this up to anything. This is not a sponsored post.



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

BUNDT CAKE DAY -- IS THIS A NATIONAL HOLIDAY?




If it's not, maybe it should be.  After all, who doesn't like cake? Bundt cakes are practically a religion in some areas of the country!


Cuisine Kathleen of "Let's Dish" fame, issued a challenge for November to prepare a bundt cake and set it up for a dessert table.  She specifically requested me to make my mother's famous Creme Cheese Pound Cake.  






If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that this recipe has appeared on my blog more than once. 



That is because when I published the book about my mother GENEVA, I featured it and talked about it a few times because it was her go-to cake recipe for a guaranteed hit at weddings, funerals and Bar Mitzvahs.  Just kidding about the Bar Mitzvah part ... she was of the Baptist/Church of Christ persuasion. ��







Wouldn't you just know, the stupid publisher cut this recipe?  This one of all the recipes in the book!!!!?  I canceled the order for the second printing, and tried to get a copy of the recipe to everyone who had bought a book.  I never did follow up with another printing, but I might next year.  Let me know if you are interested.

Here is the recipe again:


CREAM CHEESE POUND CAKE
3 sticks butter
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
3 cups sugar
Dash salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs
3 cups sifted cake flour
Cream butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add salt and vanilla and beat well.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in flour.  Spoon mixture into greased 10-inch tube pan and bake at 325° F about 1 and 1/2 hours or until cake tests done.  
Allow to cool.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar after it is inverted on serving plate.

  

The cake is easy to make, but you do need a big stand mixer and a big cake pan.  She usually made it in her tube pan, rather than her bundt pan because her pan wasn't quite big enough for this.  If she wanted to use her bundt (to give it away) she often put a little of the batter in a small loaf pan.  She always said it would "run over in the oven and make a mess" if she didn't.  It does puff way up as it bakes.  I use a big heavy bundt pan, better than the one she had, and mine has never run over.  I think she probably just wanted to keep a little of the cake for herself!  Like me, she liked it with her morning coffee for breakfast.



This cake is very rich, and I have never had a failure with it, unlike some pound cake recipes which seem to develop a sad streak no matter what you do.  That is really saying something, too, because I no longer have my swell gas range that I had in my last house.  Here, I have a double oven, but alas they are both electric, and it is tricky to bake some things. I much prefer gas, and I have been lobbying for a new stove.  Of course, if I get one, that means I would have to cook more, so I might just keep my mouth shut.  It's good to know when you are well off sometimes...



I bake this cake now at 300℉ in my crappy ovens because otherwise it doesn't come out right.  All ovens are different, so you need to use the setting that is best for yours.  If all else fails, invest in a little oven thermometer.


I have arranged a tea setting for four on our coffee table in the living room.  This cake is plain and good, just the thing with a good cup of hot tea or coffee.  Nothing fancy at all, but it can be dolled up with fruit or sauce or whipped creme.  However, once you taste it, I think you will agree that it really doesn't need a thing.  It keeps well, freezes perfectly, and it is hard to resist asking for seconds.


If you make it let me know and tell me how you liked it.

Keepin' it real for you!

Thanks, Kathleen, for the party!  You have probably helped me gain a couple of pounds this month.  I am also sharing this at a couple of other parties because this cake is too good to keep to myself.



Blogger seems to be having some kind of a spasm tonight.  Anyone else having trouble?

Linking to Cuisine Kathleen and Tablescape Thursday.




Sunday, November 9, 2014

THE MANY FACES OF MY TWO AUNTIES' SOFA


Three years ago we gave our kitchen a facelift, at which time we ditched a conventional "breakfast nook" in favor of a lounge area.  This has been a popular option for a lot of empty nesters, and it suits us to a "T".  

This time, I have made the seat pad twice as thick and added a long bolster to the back.  It is actually a queen-size duvet folded in thirds, and then put into an "envelope" I made of the slipcover fabric.

Under the body of the slipcover, I laid down some old seat pads meant for my wicker furniture to raise it.
Around the cushions, I wrapped some of that leftover egg-crate foam from our old mattress pad.

The seat is now higher and the back is cushier -- it is definitely more comfy.

I was really having trouble getting up because it is so low.  I think most sofas were long and low back then.  

We keep this little Pier 1 table here to hold the coffee cups in the morning or a glass of wine while we watch the news in the late afternoon.  I like having a place to relax while dinner cooks.

About that same time my cousin Mary offered me a sofa which she remembers shopping for and purchasing with her mother (my Aunt Mary) in 1959 in Anniston, Alabama.  It seems to me that the sofa was white or creme in its original state.  




Fast forward about fifteen years and Aunt Mary died suddenly, way too young.  About a year later (I think) My Uncle Lewis married a sweet lady who became our Aunt Agnes.  He still had this sofa (known back in the day as "French Provincial") and at some point, Aunt Agnes had it recovered in this fabric.  
Fitting the slipcover

This long pad is now against the back

It was always flattened and messed up

Just before we embarked on that kitchen project which took seven excruciating months (Sweet Husband was still working) because most of the heavy lifting was done on weekends, Aunt Agnes died at the age of ninety.  Shortly thereafter, my cousin Mary offered me the sofa because she didn't have room for it.  I jumped on it of course, because (1) my mother had always loved this sofa and (2) we had already decided to change the breakfast nook into the lounge for adults.  
My idea when I was working it out
If you have been reading this blog for a while you may remember the story and some of the various iterations of the sofa.  For those who haven't, here are some photos of it's evolutions before it got to where we are now.


It's Patriotic phase


Then we had the aqua phase

I liked the way this furniture arrangement looked.
It was a little awkward though, because you couldn't see the TV, plus you had to move a chair to get to the sofa.
Here the quilt is flipped to the turquoise side
I tried this quilt on it for a short time

Mostly it has looked like this for the last year.
The red stripe pillows are now on vacation.  

Sometimes I keep a table cloth on the table... 
Sometime next year, I hope to get it reupholstered, or maybe even have a go at it myself.  We'll see.  I have always seen this with a white frame, but I have conflicting images of what fabric to put on it.  I do know that I want to eliminate that mock tufting and buttons and change the two cushions to one big fat puffy one.
  
And today --
who knows for how long?

So -- do you, like me, have a piece from your family with a story?  One that you are sentimental about and can't bear to part with but you need to make it your own?  Do share, cher.
  




I am linking up to Metamorphosis Monday, Tweak It Tuesday and Wow Us Wednesday.  I am also linking up to Share Your Cup at Mrs. Olson's.  Last, I am linking up to Miss Mustard Seed for Furniture Feature Friday.