Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Celebrations!

 Aunt Sue brought glam cupcakes from Ditzie Bakery in San Clemente.  Oh to die for! We stacked a vase and extra cake plate on top of a cake plate to show them off!  Lovely arrangement by cousin Carlee, such the divine decorator!
After stockings, we moved to the living room for breakfast in front of the Christmas tree - Strata, OJ with champagne (it's Christmas!), coffee and GIFTS galore! 
Purchased a remnant of this plaid fabric at a drapery store called Off the Bolt, $3.95 yard (gotta love the bargain).  The fabric is heavy, shiny and has a lovely watermark.  I sewed a 10" gold border around the 117" inches in order to cover the extended table. Really liked the way the soft greens and pinks set off the transferware Romantic England dishes and the pink water goblets.
Found this winter white reindeer at Z Galleree, antler needing repair so I got it at 70% off!  Extra strip of tablecloth fabric added a festive bow to the centerpiece. Greenery came from the Pink Lemonade Lemon Tree in the backyard.  Lemons striped with green and yelow, pink inside.
 The buffet included au gratin potatoes with bacon, cream and asiago cheese (decadent - it's Christmas!), ham, turkey, broccoli, Caesar salad, rolls and Great-Grandma's deviled eggs!
As my sister Sue always says, "It's not as important what is on the table, as who is around the table."  This group reminds me of the truth of that statement.  What a blessing to be surrounded by family.
Prayer for Christmas
As we celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus, we thank you for the blessings you have given to us, freely and undeserved.  We thank you for friends, family, safety and security. Thank you for the bounty of food you have set before us, may it nourish us as you do. Help us to see those less fortunate and aid those in need. We are your hands and feet on earth. Teach us how to be your servants. Please guide us in our lives and forgive us.  Amen.

Did you notice that the small plate has three grazing deers? That is the detail that transports these plates into CHRISTMAS china!  The deer and the cranberries!  I love this set given to me by my gracious mother-in-law who used them as her daily dishes during the 1960s. 
Hope your day was filled with family, friends, love, joy and lots of delicious food!
Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Green Gifts & Holiday Cheer

Tonight my girlfriends are coming to dinner - group of amazing women that I've worked with in the past and have come to count on as my kitchen cabinet.  We meet every couple of months to share stories, reflections but mostly to encourage one another.  Years ago, Lori, a once novice Catholic nun, went to Rome and purchased us each a rosary, then dubbed us the "Rosarians."  We're all believers from different denominations yet we all support one another in prayer and emails!  So, what do I give as little gifts to these wonderous women who really need nothing? Grocery shopping bags. Each week when I grocery shop, I try to remember to bring my bags - those oversized Trader Joes or Ralphs plastic bags.  Each week when I bring them, I think to myself, "Aren't these plastic too?  Why don't I make some with leftover fabric?"  So inspired, I made a cloth grocery bag for each of my Rosarian friends.  I will post directions later if someone wants them.

I wanted to keep it simple with a brown, white, green theme.  White Rose Point Pope Gosser china, Avalon silverplate (sweet pattern that I will give someday to Tevis Rybin who loves Avalon, Catalina), Sav on Crafts faux wood chargers (3.49 each - what a bargain). Irish linen table cloth and napkins from an Antique Mall in San Francisco years ago, garden roses set in water glasses (Ina Garten reminds me to keep it simple and use what you have), oversized snowglobe with red bird (Pier 1 2010).
It is pouring rain in Los Angeles, so we'll light the fire before sitting down for warm bread and Ina Garten's Beef Barley Soup from her new book, How Easy Is That?

Sideboard features martini shakers and goblets found years ago at some flea market.  They will be filled with the most delicious EggNog Martinis (recipe to follow.)  Believe me, these are the best holiday drinks you will ever have!  Friends inquire about them all year long!

Looking forward to seeing your pre-Christmas table.  Can't wait to catch up with my kitchen cabinet.  Great women!  Great blessings!

Egg Nog Martinis
1 part Light Egg Nog
1 part Emmets Classic Cream Liqueur
1 part Vanilla Vodka

Shake with ice
Garnish with freshly shaved nutmeg

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Broken Dishes

Every day when the UPS or mail truck rumbles down my street, my husband sings "The Wells Fargo wagon is coming down the street."  I get very excited knowing that my latest eBay purchase has arrived.  Imagine my giddiness Saturday morning as I opened the box of 55 dishes of Pope Gosser Rose Point circa 1941, including a cake plate that I didn't even know existed!  Then imagine my horror upon unwrapping the West Virginia newspaper and finding a once lovely plate broken beyond repair.  One newspaper sheet protecting each plate!  Plates, saucers, cake plate and platter broken, shattered and shared.  It physically hurt.  Out of 55 dishes, only 10 arrived in tact.

Please, please protect what you sell on eBay.  Imagine the generations of women that have carefully stored their wedding china or the dishes that they saved up their precious pennies to purchase.  These are relics of the past and future that remind us of the importance of tending the souls of our families.  When we set the table, we send a message that we have thought about the people we are inviting to the table and we care about what they eat and the environment that we create in our homes.  Please take care of dishes.  Please honor and protect these relics.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Birthday Party

 My birthday falls in December - and I love it!  What better time of year to be in a mood to celebrate with candles, glittery silver, velvet ribbons and sparkling dishes?  So when asked, "What do you want to do for your birthday?" I quickly responded, "Invite the kids for dinner. I'll decorate, you cook!" 
 My favorite J & G Meinkin Romantic England Ironstone dishes.  The salad plate features three grazing dears in front of Kent 13th Century Penhurst Place, thus transforming this set into a lovely Christmas setting.

This year I found the oversized deer at my favorite store, Home Goods.  I like the modern paired with the vintage.

 I found these water goblets online through, Royal Danube hand and mouth blown glass ($24 for four).  I bought all they had available so I can set a table for 16 on Christmas day.
The snowglobe below, I've had for years, purchased at Home Goods, featuring two deers grazing in the freshly fallen snow.  A winter fantasy! The globe winds up to play "Silver Bells."

 My favorite silver, Community Morning Star.  I first found a set at the local Goodwill, then I've added to it thanks to eBay.

 New from Home Goods, placecard holders Boston Warehouse Reindeer Run (set of four $7.99)

Pearl napkin rings with silver bell ornaments.

 Sideboard Reindeer and Santas and Candles Restoration Hardware 2009.

Built-in cabinet for storing way too many collections of vintage hammered aluminum, Pope Gosser Rose Point china, oversized Martini glasses, silver nativity scene and yet another Santa. Why can't I resist buying them? 

So I've set the table, put up the decorations and I'm looking forward to our grown-up sons, their wives/fiancee and granddaughter coming to visit. Can't wait!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tea Party for teachers

Ring that Bell! This last weekend, my school received a wonderful award called "The Golden Bell."  This highly coveted award is given to schools that have a stellar program that is innovating and focused on assisting underperforming students.  And we won!  The program is called "Effective Student Support" and uses Covey's book, "Seven Habits for Highly Effective Teens" to teach young people to change their habits and in so doing, change their lives for the better. The program was designed by my assistant principal, Linda Pierce and a team of dedicated and caring teachers.

So when we came back to school, I gave them a grand tea party!
This table features  J & G Meakin Romantic England English Ironstone transferware  in the red pattern. My wonderful mother-in-law gave me this set of dishes that she used daily during the 1960's when my husband was in elementary school.  They are a daily reminder to me of the importance of providing gentility, romance and nourishment for my family - and for myself!
The table below features Pope Gosser Rose Point China that I've collected for years.  I recently loaned 60 place settings for a fund-raiser called, "Imagine LA."  The vintage china evoked the days when families sat together for dinner, tables full of nourishing, homemade meals. Imagine the world returning to those days!

Stuff I'm hmmming about

Two weeks ago I tried to post the hmmmings below on a custom domain site but somehow it disappeared into blogland.  I want to join the blog world but somehow I seem to be blog-challenged.  And so with determination and verve, I try again. 

The title of this blog comes from a not-so-great poem by Robert Burns. But I love the title. It refers to that which we spontaneously create inspired by something that fills us with joy and verve. It cannot be contained. I love it when I feel that way. Years ago as a theater teacher, I tried to model the benefits of journaling about moments inspired by art or news or anything else. I wrote a weekly journal for my students called, "Stuff I'm hmmmming about..." Plays, movies, poetry, books, music, news and conversations with friends or colleagues often inspired me to think about my world in a new and more complex manner and so I "hmmmmed" about it in these little journals. I think those were extemporaneous effusions.

What I'm effusive about right now are blogs created by people all over the country/world, lovingly crafted and then thrown out into the cosmos for anyone to read, view and comment upon. I love that! What a sense of global community. What brilliant innovators are out there in cyber-space and as close to me as my laptop. What inspired and creative minds are at work willing to share their crafting, photography, recipes, reflections, tablescaping, wedding ideas, woodwork skills and on and on. The list, like the blogs and bloggers, reveal the breadth of innovation bubbling up in this country and captured by technology. These blogs have captured the attention of Hollywood, leading to movies based on the Julia/Julie blog and the Pioneer Woman. What is next? This is a frontier medium, limited only by the the imagination of the multi-generation users. It is a game-changer.

#1 Effusive =

More to follow!

Just hmmming about blogs and wishing you a lovely first Advent Sunday. Hang the Christmas lights, warm by the fire and share a bowl of turkey soup with someone you love!