Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Years Open House!

Like many, Hubby and I both have been commiserating about this past year...we should have realized that we weren't off to a good start when we came home from spending last years New Years Eve at the symphony (which was very nice, I might add) only to arrive home after midnight to a huge flood in the basement. It appeared the toilet in our bathroom, which is on the second level of the house was leaking! What made matters worse, was that it was not even our basement but the basement of my in-laws! I tried to convince Hubby that he needed to tell his parents immediately about the situation and that there was no way that he could ever cover it up without them knowing! But I suppose childhood memories of spilling his milk, breaking their lawnmower, wrecking their car etc.etc...kicked in! So in order to kick off our new year this year, I've decide to have a small impromptu New Years Day open house and I just decided to do this last week. I'm just now writing out my menu and it's definitely going to be, you've guessed it... Southern Style!

Black Eyed peas
- Lord knows, we all need the good luck! I may try this one from Paula (click here)
Collard Greens - I love collard greens and my first attempt to make them was last year while Hubby was trying to clean up the flood mess! This year, I'm going to try Virginia Willis's recipe author of Bon Appetit Y'All which Santa forgot to give me!
Potato dish of some sort?- Because the picky hubby does not do black eye peas nor collard greens!
Roasted Shrimp - From Back to Basics from Ina - for all my vegetarian friends.
Dip - Ina's sun-dried or spinach dip?
Dessert - Chocolate Chip Cake - Sylvia, our volunteer here at the museum just dropped by all the ingredients for her world famous Chocolate Chip Cake for hubby to make! She is so sweet, and she is definitely getting an invite! So that problem is solved. I would like to do monogrammed sugar cookies, but that's looking a little iffy about now!
Gift bags - Small bottles of champagne, chocolate gold coins, and it looks like I need to hurry up and come up with a few other things...Hmmmm!
Decor - Yellow roses a must!

Well this is about as far as I've gotten on my menu which is two days away. If you have any suggestions by all means...please let me know!

As far as New Years eve is concerned, Hubby and I may go to the symphony again, but the nice thing is if we arrive home to a flood it will not be at my in laws ...Yea!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Status Continued...Hubby's Dinner Party!

Hubby's dinner party for his Mother's Birthday!

Sometimes in life you just have to roll with letting your husband get ready for a dinner party while you're at work...which was my case last night!

All in all, he did a swell job of whipping up my famous lasagna, picking up a nice desert, setting the table with what he could find around our house (which is not easy) and tying a pretty tartan ribbon (that you can't see but a lady from Talbot's was nice enough to give it to me) around Ellie. They only thing I don't like are the flowers, that I'm afraid I was in charge of!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Status Report!

This past Sunday morning, while waiting for Hubby to get out of bed, I finally decided that by God we were going to be festive this year (Hubby has been a little bit of a Scrooge insofar this year) and I've been extremely busy with work. I told him that as soon as I got back from my jog that we would go fetch our tree, and we may want to take separate cars to save time. That way, I could head to Publix for our cooking supplies while he took the tree home, put it in some water and untangle all the lights! Then once I got home from the store, I would finish off a little decorating while he whipped up the candy cane bark. And, later on in the evening while we were listening to Charlie Brown Christmas (my favorite), I would put my candy cane bark bags together with the little jingle bells that I found from two Christmas's ago. Finally, we would top off our evening making out Christmas cards to let our friends know that we were still alive! Because, by God, we're going to be festive...even if it killed us!

As soon as we were walking out the door to get our tree, I received a phone call from a police office. A fire Marshall had plucked my stolen purse from a creek! You see, things were already starting to pick up with our new festive holiday attitude!

Needless to say, while at Publix fetching my Candy Cane Bark supplies, they appeared to be out of one of the key ingredients that I needed! As I'm standing there in the baking aisle trying to decide what to do--I needed seven to ten gift bags by Monday morning and time was ticking away! So as I'm standing there being bombarded by other festive shoppers carts,thinking to myself "how do I get myself in these messes"! I slowly push my cart down the aile, pondering what do before I had a huge melt down right there in the baking aile! I then quickly remembered last Friday's blog which had a recipe to chocolate nut bark. I called hubby to see if he could look up the ingredients and we would go to plan B.

Yesterday, Monday morning, hubby and I went a got my purse and thanked they officers profusely for calling us. I Headed to our office Christmas lunch at Stoney River and passed out chocolate bark goodies bags. After work, that evening hubby and I zoomed over to Gwen's (co-worker) holiday party and lucky for me I picked up my Hostess gift this past Sat...Wheee!

Hubby got the tree up, it has water, lights and an angle! We got one Christmas card made out. Today being Tuesday I'm Currently at work and walking Hubby through our dinner party that's tonight! How I get myself into these things I don't know...But come or h 'll... or high water we're going to be festive this year!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Southern Inspirations: Gift Guide For The Foodies Like Me!

As I said earlier this week, I'm defiantly attempting to make candy cane bark (see Experimenting With Candy Bark) to pass out at our office party this coming Monday. I've also been eyeing this chocolate nut bark from Real Simple...Yumm! Which looks mighty good as well! Click here for the recipe from Real Simple.

Earlier this years, I wrote Recession Proof Chees Straws - recipe was from Julia Reed's Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns & other Southern Specialties. Basically it was me complaining how expensive cheese straws can be when you buy them in nice tins which I'm always tempted to do! Hubby and I will be having a few people over, and I love to to serve cheese straws with wine, but they make great food gifts as well...just a thought. I Just found this recipe from the Lee Bros. via Southern Living (click here for their recipe for cheese Straws Lee Bros. Cheese Straws).

I'm currently finishing up Garlic and Sapphires , which I would highly recommend as a stocking stuffer for your favorite foodie! I'm dying to try her Gougeres!

Lastly, just a few weeks ago a reader reminded me of Bon Appetit, Y'all. I've reviewed it while hanging out at the book store (which is where I mostly am while not at work) and I love it. It's on my wish list...Do you here that Santa? Love the cover too!

Next week, I'm exploring my first attempt at Standing Rib Roast from Julia's Joy of Cooking!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Southern Inspirations: Hostess Gift Guide...

... and wish list! Yesterday, while at work I finally had a few minutes to make out my Christmas list. It seems like Christmas has just crept up on us...that is for me anyway! Here are a few of my thoughts for some of the hostess gifts that I'm picking up this week. A few are even Southern inspired... Image that?

For the Hostess:

Hubby and I have a few small parties to attend & one thing that I'm going with are really nice paper napkins from either Boston International or Caspari. Tied with organza ribbon with a nice spreader tucked in. A nice look for less then twenty dollars and the napkins can be picked up at a nice paper store or market. Another possibility depending on budget (for you) would be nice white linen napkins (monogrammed perhaps) with mother of pearl spreaders. I saw a pair a few months ago and could kick myself for not buying them!

Here are my soaps that I love (see Powder Room Dilemma). For a couple of other gift ideals, I'm going to to do four or five package (women at work) of three soaps with nice white tip towel. I'm going to Josephine Fine Linens here in the Atlanta area this Saturday. They'll wrap!Pecans... can't go wrong here. Can easily pick them up at a nice market even on my way to one of my parties!
Mint Julep cups - I'm actually going to get a set of four for myself for Mother-in-law's birthday party that I'm they're really for her (Ha). I'm going to serve mint chocolate ice cream in them. Mint Julep cups make great hostess gifts...possibilities are endless for the hostess. Flowers, mint chocolate chip ice cream (my case), cotton balls or Q-tips for your bathroom. Or how about an actual mint julep?

Also, Southern Cocktails , thrown in with the mint julep cups would make a great hostess gift package!

Well, I'm out of Hostess gift ideals for now...about you, any great hostess gift ideals?

For the Food and Book lovers tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It Smells Like Christmas!

OK, I'll admit it, I bought this the week before Thanksgiving... breaking my own rule, mind you! But what can I say, I love the smell of pine. I currently have the dish soap and after work today I'm going back to Williams-Sonoma to pick up a few candles and the soap and lotion for my powder room.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Decorating: Southern Style!

Trying to cheer me up a couple of Sundays ago, my mother-in-law took me to her neighborhood's holiday home tour. There were five homes on the Christmas home tour. One particular home that was on the tour was one that I've been dying to see the inside for years. The lady of the house and her husband have lived in the same subdivision as long as my in-laws, so I was quite familiar with the house. The owner is quite notorious for her holiday decorating, no matter what the holiday is. She has actually toned it down some over the years...especially on the plastic Christmas ornaments and Easter eggs that she decorates with outside. But before getting to this highly decorated house, Mother-in-law warned me head of time what to expect and to be prepared. Of course, I was looking for really overall decorating schemes, but the decor of the house seemed to be stuck back in the eighties.

As Mother-in-law warned me, every room, every nook and cranny, was Christmas galore. Even her big whole room dedicated to Christmas and only Christmas. The bar area was no exception...not even room to mix a holiday cocktail! Mother-in-law had been told the year before, when she saw the house that the owner keeps all her Christmas things up in her basement year round. Could you imagine?

By all accounts, my favorite home that we saw that day was a home (like the one above) done very simple with fresh magnolia leaves, granny smith apples, pine cones...Very Southern!

Check out this link from Southern Living full of inspiration for holiday decorating. I may just attempt to make a magnolia wreath... I finally have a tree!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Experimenting with Candy Cane Bark!

Have you've ever noticed just how expensive peppermint bark can be? You know the bark that I'm talking about. The kind that comes in the nice decorative tins! I'm always very tempted to buy it myself, but, somehow, I always think that hubby and I will plow into it before it gets to the actual person I intended to give it to. Now, I love to bake around the holidays, and last year I was not able to do much of that. However, the year before, while in Nashville the hubby made me do a bill of sale just for all of our baking needs. We went through two mixers during that baking event. Maybe, one day, I'll have the Kitchen Aid one. Who knows? But anyway, this year, I want to do some different things other then my old standby cookies. I have several small gifts to give at work, and to me the homemade kind are the best. So this year one of the things that I'm going to attempt is this Candy cane bark. I found the recipe from Publix and it does not call for a lot of fancy ingredients.

Candy Cane Bark (recipe from Publix)

6 Ounces chocolate - flavor candy coating, chopped

1 3-ounce milk chocolate bar chopped

6 Ounces vanilla-flavor candy coating

3 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped

1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy canes

Line a large baking sheet with foil. In a small heavy saucepan melt chocolate-flavor candy coating and milk chocolate bar, stirring over low heat until smooth. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and spread into a 10X8 - inch rectangle: set aside.

In another small heavy saucepan, melt vanilla-flavor candy coating and white baking chocolate, stirring over low heat until smooth.

Slowly pour white mixture over chocolate mixture on baking sheet. With a thin spatula, swirl white mixture into chocolate mixture. Shake baking sheet gently for even thickness.

Sprinkle with crushed candy canes. Chill about 30 minutes or until firm. Use foil to lift candy from baking sheet - break candy into pieces. Makes 1 1/4 pounds

To package - I'm leaning towards either white or silver rounds tins which can be found at The Container Store with either pink or white tissue

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rolle: My Beloved Basset Hound!

It was on a Saturday, about a week or so before Thanksgiving, I was flying home from a business trip to London. The flight was not going so well, the plane had unexpectedly landed in Boston. Everyone, including myself, watched the security guards dash on board to carry the passenger off the plane...not unlike a piece of luggage! I was later told that the passenger had way too much to drink and had been causing a lot of ruckus. I and my fellow neighbors sat on board making small talk trying to take our mind off the flight. We arrived several hours later to Hartsfield International Airport...finally after getting through security, very tired, only to have to search the parking lot for my car!

Early evening, I arrived at my apartment on Peachtree Road schlepping my suitcase filled with Harrods teas, shortbread, and dirty laundry and anxious to tell Not-Yet-Hubby about my adventure. As soon as I walked in the door, plopped my keys and bags down I headed to my bedroom and started to rattle off to Not-Yet-Hubby about my day. It appeared to me as though, Not-Yet-Hubby was not too interested, he went into the kitchen (I was hoping he'd fetch me a glass of wine) but returned with this! The rest, we'll say, is history!

R.I.P. Rolle: Oct 1 1995 - Nov 23 2009

P.S. to the two-bit thief who smashed in my car window and stole my purse this past Saturday. My cards have been cancelled, driver's license number changed, social security notified, all locks changed, cell phone replaced. But what you did take, Mr. Thief, something that I can never replace, are my last remaining pictures of my basset hound. If you want the GPS that you stupidly left behind I will gladly let you have it in exchange for my phone, with the pics of my basset hound. Let me know... I believe you have my number!

Friday, November 13, 2009

'De- Mauve-ing' The Fireplace!

My old Limestone fireplace

One thing, that I have stuck on Hubby's to do list this weekend (before his precious little Saints play on Sunday) is to de-mauve our fireplace! I can't take it any more. I got really tired of de-mauveing (see Bye Bye Mauve) every nook and cranny and ran out of energy once I got to the fireplace. This morning, I was just thinking about our old limestone fireplace in Nashville and how I miss it!

I had to add this... I've always admired this pretty cozy room by Joe Minton! I wish had more time to add a few more fireplaces but I'm afraid I have to get back to work!

My old limestone fireplace - the wood I believe came from Sandy's Hackberry tree (see Loving Cowtan & Tout), and was just for show! As I always say, you can't have new mauve fireplace works! Next week - Sprucing Up the Dining Room, Thanksgiving Table Settings and Oyster Mosca! Later!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's Your Favoriate Thanksgiving Side Dish?

It appears that I won't be hosting the Thanksgiving feast this year! My Mother-in-law called me last Monday looking for Yung Li's telephone seemed she was interested in having Yung Li reupholster her dining room chairs. Just in time for her to host Thanksgiving dinner, mind you. I suppose it is for the best; she does have the proper seating, a sideboard, and most importantly a chandelier (see Hosting The Thankgiving Feast)! I was not quite sure how I was going to pull off the latter! Pushing tables together and adding tablecloths is one thing, but I'm most certainly not an electrician! And neither is the hubby...been down that road before!

So it looks as though the Hubby and I will be attending my in-laws for Thanksgiving. Now all last week after work I was hitting Williams Sonoma. Lucky for me they're right next door to the bookstore that I like to hang out at to decompress before going home to my demanding dawgs. Anyway, I was looking through their Thanksgiving menu guide and came across an interesting dish, Brussels Sprouts Gratin. The Gruyere cheese had me sold immediately, and I knew I had to try it. I asked Hubby what he thought of brussels spouts and he started to twitch, but I told him about all the Gruyere and Parmigian-Regiano cheese that was in it, and that we needed to come up with something new and fabulous for this year's Thanksgiving. BUT we should make and test the dish before the big day... been down that road before too! Making a chocolate pumpkin trouffle in Nashville (which needed lots of chilling) and heading to Atlanta with it - is something I would not recommend! It's a good thing we had lots of white wine with us to offer our host!

Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Caramelized Shallots (Click for the recipe)

You know what? I liked it, note Hubby may have added too much kosher salt but I would never tell him that - you just can't tell that to a New Orleanean, plus he'll never cook for me again. Just always remember you can add it in later...but you can never take it out.

Now what's your favorite Thanksgiving side dish? Are you thinking of new ones like me. After all, the side dishes can be even more exciting than the bird!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What's your idea of the true start of the holiday season?

I've been listening to NPR (National Public Radio) and one question they're asking this week is, "What is your idea of the true start of the holiday seasons"? I'm very interested in hearing some of the comments on this particular question! And here's why...

Last year, while I was still in Nashville and working for a interior designer, her idea start of the Holidays was August 1st. Forget Halloween and Thanksgiving! She plowed straight to Christmas during the dog days of Summer, not unlike many of retailers out there! My opinion, which I'll gladly share with you, is that she, of course, wanted a jump start to sell her hot pink Christmas trees, purple ornaments and resin nativity figurines that she had in her inventory from the last 10 years. And as my good buddy Jeremy pointed out, stuff that you would find at a Walgreens after-Chirstmas sale.

Anyway, I know we all have our own thoughts on this. For me, I like to enjoy Halloween, Hubby and I ate three bags of candy--two bags of Kit Kats and one bag of Reese's (only one little trick-or-treater this year). Hey, it only comes once a year...why not?

And my pumpkins are staying on my porch until Thanksgiving for me to enjoy. Never really been a fan of seeing pumpkins mixed with Christmas trees.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Fall Touches!

Victoria Magazine -share their tips on makeing fall wreaths

I would love a fresh fall wreath! In fact, Southern Living and Williams Sonoma both must have read my mind...Williams Sonoma just sent me an e-mail a few minutes ago introducing their new Fall Magnolia Pomegranate wreath. And in this month's issue of Southern Living, they share tips on how to make wreaths with all your fall leaves. I'm not exactly crafty and I don't have a lot of time, but I do I have a nice size magnolia tree and tons of leaves in my front yard that will allow for plenty of mistakes if I decide to give it a go!

Williams-Sonoma Home new Magnolia Pomegrante Wreath

Fresh Market's original magnolia wreath - love their turkey peasant one as well!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hostessing The Thanksgiving Feast?

I would love to host Thanksgiving dinner! It's one of my favorite holidays, but there's a small teeny tiny problem - I seem to be missing a chandelier (I'll talk about that later), a sideboard, and a proper sized dinning room table. Two of the items have been on my wish list for years and years now! I did come very close, just a few months ago, buying a English Regency side board that I loved! But I deeply feared hubby's reaction after all my spending on the fabric for my reupholstering work with Yung Li. No, unfortunately, I did not buy it. Since I do seem to be missing a few key elements for a sit-down dinner; I've not just yet thrown my hat in the ring to host a big Thanksgiving feast! But if I do decide; here are just a few of my thoughts:

I like Thanksgiving to be very simple, perhaps even potluck. I do know that my mother-in-law would be delighted to bring a few dishes, especially if she did not have to host it at her own house! And she'll get father-in-law to whip up his famous oyster stuffing dish and instant mashed potatoes (just joking on the latter). Anyway, dinner will be be covered between us.

Both images from Martha Stewart

The table that I do have in my dining room is a barley twist table, which I bought a while back with the intention of someday using it in my man cave. Yung Li was over a few weeks ago, giving me her thoughts on my bedroom curtain dilemmas, and asked why I had bought such a small table for my dining room. I actually did not buy it for that room and had to explain to her that when I find a table to my liking and budget then I'll grab it. However, I could get away with sitting four very comfortably, and squeezing six around it if I had to. But here's my solution; depending on guests, and taking into account that I probably won't get the table of my dreams before Thanksgiving. What I'll probably do is squeeze two tables together with a really pretty tablecloth. Seating in my household is not a problem - chairs are the one thing that I have plenty of! Enough of me complaining and back to hostessing!

My dining room, yes I know, missing a lot!! The good thing, though, it's not mauve!

I love the thought of sending my guest home with their own personal box full of goodies just like these.

How cute! Image from Williams-Sonoma Entertaining

For some reason, I've had alot of pumpkin recipes on my mind recently! Just last week, Coleen, one of our new docents, introduced me to a new food site "Pinch My Salt". I just had to have the hubby make her double chocolate pumpkin cupcakes for no apparent reason other then the fact that they sounded awfully good. For my Thanksgiving feast though, I would like to do mini pumpkin loafs wrapped in wax paper tied with a ribbon or raffia and packaged with a little pumpkin butter, which I'll pick up locally.

Any other suggestions ? Please let me know - I'm listening!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Enjoying Southern Living!

A few days ago, I was reading Cote de Texas; Joni the author had just written a post on some of the new changes over at Southern Living. Like Joni, I have aways enjoyed more of the decorating side of things; one reason why, I always subscribed to Southern Accents and Cottage Living. When Cottage closed I was sent Southern Living and, like Joni, I'm really enjoying the new changes! They include more decorating photos, yummy looking recipes to try, and gardening for people like me! And, in fact, just this past Sunday (since the Hubby's beloved Saints were off), we took a Sunday drive to Serenbe. Funny thing about this was just a few weeks ago (when we were're getting pummeled with rain here in the Atlanta), I was having lunch with a good friend who went to culinary school (she's a good foodie), and she had mentioned Serenbe's to me. Anyway, A week later, when my Southern Living arrived - there it was, a nice little article on Serenbe! I had to go to check things out!

Here's my report; if you go on a Sunday like me and the Hubby, then go a little early so you can enjoy the bottomless Mimosa, fried green tomatoes, arugula salad, fried chicken and collard greens. That way, you'll have room for the chocolate brownie sundae - which we did not! We had the Best Southern Chili, complements of you know who (Southern Living), waiting for us at home that evening!

Thank You Southern Living!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cooking For DAWGS!

OK I'll admit it, I cook for my dawgs, nothing to fancy though. Lets see, one night it maybe brown rice (after all, it is better for you than white rice) simmered with a chicken bouillon cube. The following night, it may be scrambled eggs with a little cheddar cheese mixed in. Or perhaps one evening it could be a little turkey bacon mixed in with their Kibbles & Bits or Gravy Train - (depending what's on special). Some would say that Rolle and Ellie are spoiled little dawgs! Like their Mamere (my Mother-in-law), whom one night had to cook them rice, and was not the least bit happy about it! I didn't bother further requesting that she cook the rice with chicken stock!

Now my oldest, Rolle, the basset hound, even knows the word pizza. The reason behind this is when his dad was off traveling for work, I would ask Rolle if he wanted to order a pizza. Naturally, his answer was always yes! So off he would go, to sit and wait in the foyer for the pizza man to deliver a nice size box filled with everything to his likening, plus there was no daddy around to hog it all!

Image from Great Settings - One of my favorite entertaining books!

What's really bad is that my youngest, Ellie, who will spit out dog biscuits given to her by the bank teller and dry cleaning people. So I have to politely say that she is still full from her breakfast and I make her thank them profusedly! After we drive off I scorn her and remind her how grateful she should be! Now for both Rolle and Ellie, if the hubby and I decide to go out for dinner for the evening, both of them prefer to wait to eat their dinner (even though they have already been fed) until the Hubby and I have return home to see where we went, and if there are any leftovers! Was it The Fickle Pickle for yummy bacon cheeseburgers or those pitiful Thai and Mexican restaurants that we hate! MSG, and chips and salsa are not in our diet.

The other day I was poking around the Junior League Of Atlanta cookbook (CookNotes) and came across this recipes for dog crackers. Not that I've started any real planning or anything for the holidays. But I thought that this could be something that we could all (Rolle, Ellie, & Hubby) make together and pass out to the neighborhood dawgs for the holidays. I attempted this a couple of years ago but only got as far making cookies for humans, and their poor dawg friends got stuck with store bought biscuits! Just like the ones Ellie spits out!

Dawg Crackers

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
1 cup corn meal
2 cups cracked wheat
1/2 cup dry milk
4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 ounces package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 pint chicken stock
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large, bowl, combine flours, corn meal, cracked wheat, and salt. Combine yeast and water; add to dry ingredients along with stock. Beat egg and milk. add to other ingredients. Turn mixture onto a floured surface, and knead three minutes. Dough will be very stiff. Roll out to a one quarter-inch thickness. Cut dough with cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 45 minutes. Turn off heat and dry crackers in oven overnight. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Adding a Few Fall Touches!

Last year, I did a small post on budget friendly Ohhh Fall picks for your home. Now here's what I've done just recently for fall, budget friendly of course! Last week, after work, I went shopping for clothes, which I despise, but I had to due to all of Hubby's cooking lately. The new place that I like to go to here in Atlanta is an outdoor 'mall' that is close by. Easier then dealing with the whole giant mall scene if you know what I mean. So on my way to J.Crew, I walked by Bath & Bodywork's and I quickly noticed Slatkin Candles in the window. This rang a bell with me from a few years ago when I last purchased one of his candles, and the sales associate gave me a few tidbits on his new relationship with Bath & Bodywork's. As some of you may already know, Slatkin candles are not exactly cheap, but they are very nice and I do love the pretty boxes. Now I normally don't buy very many scented candles, but I was in the mood for some fall scents. I paid $9.50, but they are now on sale for 5.00! You get a nice scented Slatkin Candle but just no fancy box, but who cares? Also, I think the small size would make a great little hostess gift. For an interesting tidbits on Elton John, Vera Wang and candles click here. I got the spiced cider. Now what's your favorite Fall scent?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanks Ina!

Last Wednesday for work I had a potluck luncheon to attend, and I needed to come up with a dish of some sort. I had asked Sylvia, our extroverted, bubbly, elderly volunteer the week before what she would be making, and she quickly called out her famous potato salad with honey mustard dressing. Sylvia quickly asked me what I would be making and I said perhaps brownies. After seeing Sylvia's response, I made sure NOT to say "oh the cheap 99 cent brownies out of the box" (which, truthfully, was what I was thinking). Who doesn't like them? I thought maybe I should put some effort into this potluck. I'm not exactly that busy.

Image from barefoot contess - back to basics

After going through a few of my cookbooks, I came up with a couple of things. I had thought about a squash casserole--'tis the season--or some good comfort food like macaroni & cheese. I then remembered that this past January, I bought Ina' s newest cookbook, Back to Basics. and as soon as I saw this pumpkin roulade I knew I had to try it. Here's my chance, I thought! Hubby normally makes something similar every year for Thanksgiving simply called a Pumpkin Roll but it has nuts in it. Anyway, I am please to report that with Hubby's help I arrived at my luncheon with a beautful pumpkin roulade. Recipe courtesy Ina Garten

For the cake:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus extra for dusting
For the filling:nocoupons
12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup minced dried crystallized ginger (not in syrup)
Pinch kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and grease and flour the paper.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt and stir to combine. Place the eggs and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light yellow and thickened. With the mixer on low, add the pumpkin, then slowly add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Finish mixing the batter by hand with a rubber spatula. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake the cake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the top springs back when gently touched.

While the cake is baking, lay out a clean, thin cotton dish towel on a flat surface and sift the entire 1/4 cup of confectioners' sugar evenly over it. (This will prevent the cake from sticking to the towel.) As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, loosen it around the edges and invert it squarely onto the prepared towel. Peel away the parchment paper. With a light touch, roll the warm cake and the towel together (don't press!) starting at the short end of the cake. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone, confectioners' sugar, and cream together for about a minute, until light and fluffy. Stir in the crystallized ginger, and salt.

To assemble, carefully unroll the cake onto a board with the towel underneath. Spread the cake evenly with the filling. Reroll the cake in a spiral using the towel as a guide. Remove the towel and trim the ends to make a neat edge. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve sliced.

P.S. If you make it the night before I would suggest putting the powdered sugar on once you arrive at your destination--I think Hubby missed the side note, but that's ok! And by the way, everyone loved it! Including Sylvia! Thanks Ina!

Monday, October 5, 2009

What's Your Halloween Decorating Style?

I Love this black silk flower wreath, it's simple but...

Today while at work I took Martha's quiz on What's Your Halloween Decorating Style? Don't ask! I did have a few minutes and on the way into work this morning I noticed everyone had their pumpkins and yellow mums out, and I don' yeah, I'm in the mood for some Halloween decorating! After taking the quiz, I'm please to report that my Halloween decorating style is undoubtedly Seasonal and Sophisticated! So I'll put this in a nutshell (for me anyway), no matter what season it is, I always think less is always more. I don't have a lot of time for craft projects, but I do love to go to the garden centers for seasonal flowers, to the farmers markets for pumpkins and gourds, and to gather pine cones and acorns to throw in a bowl while walking Ellie. So I guess I would say that I like things simple and quick!

Like This!

And speaking of simple, coincidentally, I was just thinking about a home I saw a few years ago while driving around Savannah. The owner is actually a very talented garden designer with whom I'm acquainted. Her home is a 1940's two story white brick with black and white awnings in a neighborhood in Savannah that I've always wanted to live in. I wish a had a picture but basically, for her Halloween decorating, she had a couple of very big black spiders attached to her house. The spiders of course really popped on her white brick home. Perfect, I thought! I'm still wondering where she got them because I would probably buy a few myself, and I normally don't buy that type of thing due to storage issues.

The pumpkins on the table are more my speed in Halloween decorating! Depending on time, I may attempt the chandelier! All Images from Martha Stewart Living

What's your Halloween style?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Discovering Winterthur!

A few weeks ago, while reading the October issue of Victoria magazine, an article that really captured me was the feature on Winterthur (an old American estate) located in the Brandywine area of Delaware. Within this megalopolis area (Richmond, Washington DC, Baltimore, Wilmington, Phiadelphia, etc. ), Delaware is one place that I have never really spent that much time in--after all, my blog is called Southern Inspirations. My experience up the coast is mostly a few trips to New York, a little time in Boston and the D.C. area. And of course, I can't forget making the trek up I-95 a couple of times to New Jersey, where the Hubby and I almost moved. Also, can't forget my antiquing trip to Brimfield, Ma. with my buddy Cruella. But that is pretty much it!

Just a couple of weeks ago, shortly after discovering Winterthur, I was talking to one of our master gardeners, Leslie, at the museum where I work here in north Atlanta. She coincidentally was getting ready for a vacation up to the megalopolis area and Delaware was one of the destinations on her stop. I quickly chimed in and said oh you have to go to Winterthur! I explained to her how I just discovered it recently inVictoria. As it turned out, she had already been there before and gave me some more history on Winterthur.

This past Friday, thinking I needed a vacation since I have a lot of computer work ahead of me, I decided to pick our Marketing Director Janice's brain. After all, she is from that area, so I thought she could fill me in too. As it turned out, she had been there as well and added that she had been there in the middle of winter and the gardens were absolutely beautiful! Better yet, she told me about some of the fine art classes that they offer.

All images from Victoria

So, If I ever make it out of Georgia in the near future...Winterhur here I come! I'm also thinking I would love to take a few classes there myself and I'm adding that to my list of things to do in my lifetime before I die. Why not?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Time For Cocktails!

Image from Winter House

Image From Southern Accents

Image from Mrs.Howard

Whew.... it's Friday! I'm just happy that the sun is out for now (we've been pummeled with rain here in Atlanta) while I write this quick post on bar ware. I've been told it's going to start coming down again later today and tomorrow. So much for doing yard work this weekend! Anyway, I love looking at other people's bar displays--for me it's always very interesting to see what types of Scotch, bourbon, vodka, and, most importantly, bar ware that people use. I especially love it when I see things mixed such as mint julep cups, old etched glasses, wine coasters, Martini shakers etc... But I do have to admit, that I'm afraid that I personally like to stick with the liquor in decanters. I suppose it's just my fear of labels perhaps.

Image from House Beautiful

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Who's Familiar with Osage Oranges?

When the Hubby and I moved to Nashville it was fall - my favorite time of year. The exact date was Oct 30th, the day before Halloween. The reason why I remember that is because the following day I had no candy to offer the trick-or-treaters who arrived at the new place. Anyway, as the movers were busy unloading our stuff, I decided to take a small stroll with Rolle, who had been in the car for over five hours and needed a little walk. While out for our stroll that fall afternoon, Rolle and I discovered something that I had never seen before here in the South--big round green balls that were dropping from the trees.

Later in the afternoon when Rolle and I arrived back at the house, I asked the smallest of our movers, and old-school who I could see was not happy with moving my leftover business inventory (20 75 lb boxes of cast iron garden edgings), and he called them horse apples. I thought to myself, now that's easy enough for me to remember. After living in Nashville for three+ years, I discovered that their real name--Osage Orange. And yes, you see the faux ones in places like Crate & Barrel.

Now, being back in Atlanta, I have discovered that there are a few Osage Oranges here as well. And I've learned that in the 19th century they were planted to keep the bugs away in the summer months. I came home with a basket full of them today. I'm wondering, what else can they be used for... Any thoughts?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dining Al Fresco On the Cheap!

I had to postpone my Hubby's birthday party. His birthday falls on Labor Day weekend, so I figured it was best since a lot of people were going to be out of town. Also, I'm still not that happy with my house but I will eventually need to get over that. Anyway, I was thinking we could have it later this month , which will work out better with the temperature cooling down.

Image via Martha Stewart Living

In the past, I have given the hubby themed typed party's; one year it was a Mexican inspired themed with miniature liquor bottles that he knocked out of the pinata. Then I did a barbecue inspired one with the red bandannas. I attempted to do a Hawaii themed once, but this was when I discovered that working during the day and trying to give a party that same evening doesn't particularly work--at least, not for me. What happened was I waited to get a few things the same day as the party. After all, it was Labor Day Friday, so I left the office a little early to go the store. Just when I had the pineapples in my cart, I got a call from my boss and had to go back to my office for a mere ten minutes to prove I was still there. After getting off the phone with her, needless to say, I was not very happy with this huge setback. I started thinking, how was I going to get to the store, gather up my pineapples, pick up my cake that I had special ordered, get home in rush hour traffic, make my appetizer, set everything up, run the vacuum... I was so distraught from the thought of all that that I called everyone from my desk and cancelled. I can assure you that the bakery was not thrilled with being stuck with a huge volcano chocolate cake with the words Happy B-day Hubby!

Image via Williams -Sonoma

For me, the lesson I learned from that incident is to schedule parties on Saturdays or Sundays, when I'm not working with no boss to get in my way! You know, one party that I did not mention before that I gave to the hubby was an Italian inspired party. I did that one in the fall when he graduated with his MBA, and miraculously got a job and some money! So I'm thinking of doing something like that again. This lasagna was one of the first recipes I ever did, and I still do it. I'll have to call my old neighbor Sandy for a fancy vegetarian one to serve as well.

DaVinci Lasagne Supreme

1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons salad or olive oil
1 can (1 pound) tomatoes
2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves, 1/2 package (8 ounces) Da Vinci lasagne, 1 pound Ricotta Cheese, 8 ounces Mozzarella cheese shredded, 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Lightly brown beef and onion in oil. Add tomatoes, paste, water, parsley, salt, sugar, garlic powder, pepper and oregano; simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, about, 30 minutes. Cook lasagne as directed; drain. In 13X9X2 " baking pan, spread about 1 cup sauce. Then alternate layers of lasagne sauce, Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese, ending with sauce, Mozzarella, and Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 40 to 50 minutes. Allow to stand for 15 minutes. Makes 8 servings. Ciou!