Change Everything

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Spring Table

Happy Spring (a little late)!

Just a few photos of a table setting I created recently. 

Magnolias, in all their variations, are one of my favorite flowers. The traditional white in particular because they're so regal. The faint lemon fragrance make them even more appealing. 

When I saw these plates at Pier 1 I knew I just had to get them for my collection. Even better, they're the perfect luncheon size (though they're called salad plates)! It's getting more difficult to find luncheon sized plates so it's fortunate that some companies are making, what I consider, over-sized salad plates. 

I kept this setting very simple to show off the plates.  Pier 1 also offers a dinner plate, bowl, mug and stemware in this pattern and a serving platter. While the hand-painted glassware is beautiful I decided not to purchase any of those pieces.

A simple centerpiece of flameless candles and silk magnolias sitting on a charger so it's easy to move out of the way when serving a meal. 

The glassware is from Nordstrom rack, gold pineapples. I think I mentioned an issue with glassware previously so now I'll share the whole story.  

The glassware you see on the table has gold pineapples on it but it wasn't my first choice. I was at Nordstrom Rack and found these tumblers with gold flamingos but there were only two. I bought them then I went home and found a full set (of flamingos) online and ordered them. When they showed up they were the pineapple version so I took them back to the store and tried again. I 'chatted' with the online agent about what happened and asked that they make a special notation on my order for someone to look inside the box before sending.  Guess what?! Yep, I got another box of pineapple tumblers. WHEW!! 
I tried again, however when I went to place my order online the flamingos were gone. I'm guessing they were sold out all along but no one ever updated the website. Fortunately I hadn't returned the second set and while not flamingos I still like them. 

Hope you're having a lovely weekend! 

I'll be joining the party at Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House, Dishing & Digging It at Rustic & Refined and Share Your Cup Thursday at Have a Daily Cup of Mrs Olson.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

I Adore Old Cookbooks

I can read a cookbook like a good book or an issue of Tea Time magazine, every page, cover to cover. 

I recently went to a bazaar and among a few other things (yes, I did get more seasonal aprons for my dish soap bottle) I found two old cookbook pamphlets that I'm guessing are from the late 1940's or early 1950's. One is all about desserts and the second is one that apparently came with the purchase of a Hotpoint Electric range. I don't know if appliance companies even bother with recipes anymore, though most of my small kitchen appliances did have a few recipes included in the instruction pamphlet. 

I thoroughly enjoyed these two little pamphlets and will share some of the most interesting features of the Hotpoint Electric Range pamphlet below and the desserts pamphlet in another post. I contacted General Electric (which has always owned the Hotpoint brand) and they've given me permission to share the following scanned pages with you.

One of the most interesting things about this range is what they refer to as the 'Thrift Cooker'. From what I can tell it's sort of a combination of a slow cooker/pressure cooker/steamer that was built right into the top of the range. I watched a video for a different company (from the same era) and their built in cooker had a pressure cooker type lid for the built-in pot. Its heating element could also be raised so that it functioned just like any of the other burners. 

This is the only photo that includes the Thrift Cooker though they did include several recipes. 

The Thrift Cooker is that silver circle to the top left of the cooktop.

This pamphlet also includes several recipes for desserts, and surprisingly, many of them are referred to as 'puddings' just the same as most people in the UK refer to any dessert other than cake. 
This recipe happens to be for a pudding that you prepare in the Thrift Cooker. This page also lists other Thrift Cooker recipes in the pamphlet. 

The Hotpoint pamphlet included this reference page, I've never before seen reference to the sizes of cans before. I'd heard of a #10 can and I sort of figured that the others probably did, too. 

Shared with Permission from General Electric Appliances
I also don't think I've ever seen the cups to weight conversion in any of my other cookbooks, though I would argue that the brown sugar measure isn't quite right. 

The other thing I found of interest is this photo and the subsequent menu plans that allowed/encouraged one to cook the entire meal at once in the oven. 

I suppose I always knew this was possible but I've never tried it. I think most of us put the roast in the oven and then cook everything else on top of the stove.When the roast comes out the rolls go in and possibly later the oven might get used to warm up dessert. 
It really makes sense to put it all in the oven and not have to stand over the stove. Save time, effort and energy!

Here's one of the menus they provide to cook everything in the oven at once. Who knew they'd figured out oven-fried chicken way back then? The other somewhat surprising fact I've found is that over-cooking vegetables in a lot of water really wasn't what everyone did prior to the advent of steamer baskets. In this pamphlet as well as other sources I've read (or watched) steaming vegetables was common practice. Yes, there were aware that boiling them was just pouring the goodness down the drain. 

The recipes in this pamphlet as with many other recipes I've read from prior generations all assume some general food knowledge; the size of a medium onion or the best type of cooking apples for pie or how to cut-up a chicken for frying, many things that may or may not be common knowledge now. 
Even with the plethora of different types of fruit and vegetables I don't think we can get some foods that were readily available in years past. I may have seen bags of new potatoes in the store but not all the often and it's not as if you have a choice of how many to buy; you get whatever they decide to put in the packaging. I'll save the rest of the grocery store packaging rant for another time. 

By the way I'm just going on and on about this little pamphlet you'd think it was the greatest thing since the electric toaster. It's not just this one little book I'm also enamored with other very old cookbooks and homemaking books I've found. More on that another time. 

To finally wrap this up I'll leave you with the the table of contents. 

Your etiquette tip for this post;
As you go to sit in a chair you enter from the chair's right side; that means your left hip goes in first. Does it really matter all that much? Probably not, unless it's a crowded table. If everyone is following the same guideline it will certainly avoid a lot of jostling and awkwardness. 

I'm joining the link up party over at Make It Pretty Monday!
Happy Spring and Share Your Cup at Have a Daily Cup of Mrs Olson and Dishing It & Digging It at Rustic and Refined. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Surprising Friday the 13th

I try to keep fresh flowers in the house and that usually means that I pick some up at the grocery store when I do my shopping.  A couple of months ago after meeting some friends for coffee we walked out of the coffee shop and saw that there was a new florist so we stopped in to check it out.  She had some beautiful flowers and I was impressed that many of them smelled like they were supposed to, rather than that generic florist smell. 

This florist happens to be where I get on and off the train every day for my commute. Since it was so convenient I figured I would treat myself to some of the gorgeous flowers from this florist every now and then. 

It was Friday, I'd had a good day at work and it wasn't raining too hard so I headed to the florist when I got off the train. I was looking around enjoying all the gorgeous flowers and thinking about what I wanted to get myself.  

The owner was talking with another woman while I was looking around. After a few minutes she took a break and asked me what I wanted; I asked how much 1/2 dozen roses were and the amount she told me was just a bit over my budget so I asked for some gorgeous white lilies instead. 

Without a moments hesitation the woman who was speaking to the owner said "I'll buy the roses for you" and turned to the owner "I'll get the roses for her". She explained that she often bought herself flowers and she wanted to do this for me. And again "I'll get the flowers for you". I picked out these beautiful pinky peachy roses and the owner wrapped them up for me. I introduced myself to this amazing stranger and thanked her the best I could. I wished her well with her party planning and left the shop in complete joy and amazement and love. 

To Carol, the wonderful woman who decided in a split second that she wanted to buy a total stranger a few roses on a Friday afternoon, thank you for reminding me of what's really important. For allowing me to be the recipient of the Law of Giving and Receiving.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

I will definitely be paying it forward at every opportunity and have designated every Friday the 13th as Buy Flowers for a Stranger Day. 

Share the love!

Monday, September 18, 2017

My Thoughts on a Seemingly Random Topic

No I'm not turning into an alarmist or 'doomsday prepper', I just happened on the videos I mention below and found the topic quite interesting. 

We're hearing a lot about minimalism these days especially from the millennial crowd. TV shows like Tiny House and all over YouTube with wardrobe reductions like Project 333 (33 items of clothing for 3 months) and other 'capsule' wardrobe guidelines.  Just like with so many other 'trends' this isn't really new. Firstly, there have been many minimalist movements over the years and secondly, in many countries it's the status quo.

What many are forgetting are the times in history when 'minimalist' was forced; the Great Depression or WWII for example. You may have heard of  'Depression Era mentality' there are the people who tend to save everything because they grew up during the Depression (these folks may or may not be hoarders).

During WWII there was rationing but in the US and in the UK. I recently found some great videos that are reenactments of what life was like during WWII in the England. Rationing wasn't just food, it also included fuel, clothing, shoes, pretty much everything was rationed. Talk about minimalism.

I really enjoyed this series of videos, made several years ago, quite a bit. These are just a couple of people who lived through WWII and the rationing. They talk about how things were in England during the 6 long years of the war and how they managed. I really wish I could find this on DVD (even video tape) since I can't seem to find the entire series in an easily watchable format on YouTube. There are several that show up in a weird faux move theater format that isn't very easy to watch. 

The Wartime Kitchen

Related image

This series (link below) is a more recent documentary with the historian and archaeologists recreating, in detail, specifics from the six years of World War II.

Wartime Farm

Where Wartime Kitchen focuses on the experiences of the two main cast members, Wartime Farm goes into more depth and shows a broader variety of what was happening in the country during the war. I've really enjoyed them both but there's something about the Wartime Kitchen and Garden that I am drawn to, maybe because the people featured in those videos actually lived through the those very austere times. 

I happened on this cookbook Grandma's Wartime Kitchen it contains recipes from the US's rationing efforts. After learning about the amazingly strict rationing in the UK, it's interesting to read about how things were somewhat the same and somewhat different in the US.

We're very fortunate that we haven't had to deal with shortages (other than a few things during the 1970's but only for a short time) in a very, very long time. Someone once said, "those who don't learn history are destined to repeat it" so it may be wise to learn a few things about making do from those who actually lived through those difficult years. 

Image result for wwii rationing images

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Little Tea for Two

Happy almost August! 

Around here that means county fair time and fair competitions. For reasons I still can't quite figure out our county fair is not allowing adults to enter the culinary or textile competitions, with some minor exceptions. I was and still am disappointed that I'm not able to entering any yummy baked goods.

However, I was still able to enter the tablescape event.

Each year there are two themes to choose from. This year the two themes were "Peace in the Garden" and "Tea for Two", guess which one I chose. **wink**

I had decided what I was going to do at least a month ago but for some unknown reason I didn't do anything about it until a couple of days before I was supposed to drop it off at the fairgrounds. 

I was really fortunate to have found this tiny tea set at Goodwill last weekend. Many thanks to my friend who went shopping with me, she was excellent moral support when I was looking (frantically searching) for a child's tea set.

I was reminded to always read the description very carefully when buying anything online. I was thrilled when I found a 'Mother Goose Tea Set' on Etsy so I ordered it. The next day I went back and looked at the description only to realize it was dollhouse size, not child size. Since I spent the money I had to use them, that's why they're sitting in the 'birdcage'.

This sweet little tea pot, found at GW, was the inspiration for the whole tablescape. Isn't she sweet? 

I was afraid these might look a little too bridal shower'y but they worked well with the larger green 'birdcage'. I got one of those handy dollar store candle holders to raise it up a bit. 

One of the requirements for the competition is that we have to include a menu, upper left of the picture. 
The menu includes:
Chilled strawberry-rhubarb soup
Cream cheese and jam tea sandwiches on raisin bread
Gingerbread scones
Fruit kabobs
S'mores bars
Chamomile and pink rose petal tea

A word about the 'table cloth' I used. I just bought the fabric because I loved it and was looking at other fabric for this tablescape. When I was rushing (because somehow I lost a week) around pulling it all together I grabbed it along with a couple of other pieces I had, just to see if I could skip another shopping trip and spending more money on this one time only event. I thought the tea cup design would be too busy but I when I put it all together I was thrilled with the way it looked!

(The fabric's next incarnation will be as a new tea cozy for me!)

I was prepared to share pictures of the competition but I neglected to change the settings on the camera so most of each of the photos are blurry. Oh well, I guess that it's for the best. 

Such a pretty little pattern on this adorable tiny tea set. I was so fortunate to find all these matching pieces at GW. 

I'll be joining the link-up parties with these amazing bloggers! Share your Cup Thursday over at Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson and Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch and Dishing It & Digging It at Rustic & Refined.

P.S. First place, a Blue ribbon!!! Yay!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Happy (belated) Independence Day!

It wasn't easy but I managed to pull together a 4th table on Tuesday morning.

It was a quiet yet busy day off for me. I took some extra time off from work to get caught up on chores around the house. Hug curtain rods, did some sewing, emptied another box and did some baking. 

Yummmm, it's berry season!

I added a few new things to the Americana table this year. 

The star trays have been sitting around waiting to be made into a three tiered tray and they will eventually get there. For now, I think they look great just stacked on the table. 

The standard plate stack photos...

The only challenge with fireworks on July 4th is that it doesn't get dark until nearly 10:00 pm, and at that point I'm be way too tired to be dealing with traffic and crowded parking lots. 

I'm a big fan of Christmas in July (okay, I understand that the though of Christmas in the middle of summer upsets some people but during the hottest part of the summer I enjoy the 'mental' cooling affect and all those great Hallmark Movies!) so how about we have Independence Day fireworks on December 4th? Huh? What do you think? Brilliant idea, right? 

I found these napkins at a craft bazaar last year. They were tucked away with the rest of the napkins until Tuesday morning and I'm really happy with the way they look on the table. The colors pop a lot more than I expected. 

Ariel view from our sky-cam (or maybe just me with my arms stretched up in the air)

Random close-ups...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope you had a great '4th' and hopefully a little extra time off. 

I'm joining the party over at Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House and Share Your Cup at Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Summer Color

Summer finally arrived here in the Northwest after a pretty cold start to June. I had washed and stored all my sweaters and ended up having to pull one of them out of the cedar chest. 
We went from unseasonably cold to some of the hottest weather on record in a matter of what seemed like a week. 

The weather has settled down and we've had some really beautifully day. To celebrate I created a brightly colored table...

I found the fabric for the 'tablecloth' on the clearance rack at JoAnns. I love it and wish it hadn't been the end of the bolt since I could have used a couple more yards. It's going to take some creative sewing for it to fit my table correctly. 

Yep, that's a lot of pink in one picture! The top plate is Lilly Pulitzer, the next plate (flamingos) is Cynthia Rowley, the flower charger is from Hobby Lobby.

Here are some additional views...

Every time I look at this table it makes me smile. 

It's not just one thing, it's all the pieces together and also that's it's an expression of my creativity. Yes, I did this. I pulled all these pieces together and created this table setting. As a bonus, when I couldn't find the paper lantern I had planned to use for the centerpiece and I improvised. Is it the greatest silk flower arrangement ever? Nope, not even close but it looks pretty good. 

This is Shirley, she's always the life of the party!

There's a story to these glasses that I will share with you once I get to the happy ending. I saw them and knew I had to have them, so I bought two right away and ordered four more. Still waiting on the final four. 

The final shot

I'd like to say that every time I take a overview shot, it turns out perfectly the first time. I'd like to say that but it's not true. I usually have to take at least three, maybe five shots and then edit them. It's all good. 

Now that these photos are posted I'll have to jump into my July 4th table first thing tomorrow! YIKES

Thanks for stopping by my blog today. 

I'll be join up the link up over at Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House and Dishing It and Digging It at Rustic & Refined and Between Naps on the Porch and Share Your Cup on Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson.