How It Started

When the gourmet group heard we were going to Sicily for another Foodie Adventure, a request was made for a Sicilian meal when we next hosted.   Lucky I was warned because that made me pay attention to tables and accessories when we were there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt a market I found a cloth which started the thought process.

I was very attracted to ceramic heads which were a reflection of the Moorish influence in Sicily.    I finally yielded to temptation and purchased two small ones that I knew would work into whatever tablescape would eventually evolve.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen the time came to put a table together, I brought out the chianti bottles which have been used  many times over the years.  Now I know chianti is Tuscan, but I figured as long as I kept the Italian thing going, it would be OK.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe same thing applies to the handpainted plates which were gotten in Ravello some years ago. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I looked at the table, it dawned on me that citrus was everywhere in southern Sicily, so I went outside, cut a few stems of holly fern and arranged whatever oranges, lemons and grapefruit were in the refrigerator on the table.  They actually play off some of the images on the cloth which is proving to be quite an effective inspiration.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA dish towel doubling as a napkin and folded into a pocket for flatware

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand an orange atop the salad plate completes a table that turns out to be very reflective of sunny Sicily.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd to think it all started with a request for a Sicilian dinner which I’ll share next time.

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Centerpiece Wednesday

Tablescape Thursday

Old Familiar Things

With the holidays over and Christmas decorations back in storage for another year, it is comfortable getting back to all those old familiar things that are part of everyday life.

img_8456The breakfast room table is void of trees and snow globes that are replaced with what is left of the flowers the hubby gave me for our anniversary.  They are arranged in an assortment of bottles which make for a simple  and colorful centerpiece.

img_8457The table runner is one I made from a scrap of my handwoven fabric bordered with another remnant.  Sometimes it pays not to throw anything away, but when I go into my studio I wonder how it will be possible to use all that is on the shelves!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith the runner and flowers in place, it was easy to pick everything else.  The dishes are one of my favorites, Tuscany Rose from 222 Fifth.  They’ve been around for a long time, and a few pieces now have chips in them.  I’ll keep using them though until they are no longer presentable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAdd glasses and flatware,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand in just a few minutes the table is done.  I wish that preparing dinner were that quick and easy!

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Tablescape Thursday

What’s Ahead?

2017, a new year that has gotten here faster than I would have wished.  Now that it’s in place, like many of you, I’m wondering what’s ahead.  Is it more exercise, less food and drink, you know, the things we always swear to address?  Experience has taught me that resolutions are something I rarely keep, at least not all of them, so I don’t make them anymore.

img_8444Today, I was in Pier One checking out its Christmas sale.   Walking out empty handed, this sign caught my eye. Before pulling out my iPhone to snap a photo, I thought about the words and how they could well define my goals for 2017.  There’s nothing here that requires sacrifice, but that doesn’t mean there is no challenge.  That being said I’m going to start now incorporating these words into the way I live.  Maybe they will work for you, too.

Happy New Year!

Wait, There’s More!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor sure there is more to this New Year’s Eve table other than it being created around the centerpiece of holly trees and finials that has inspired  each of my December tables.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo, this one begins with the china that is one of the few things I have that belonged to my mother.  It is not likely what I would have picked, but it is dear to me because of the memories it evokes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t remember ever having seen her use the little salt cellars.  I found them in a cabinet after she died and have no idea of their origin, but I held on to them without thinking about how their gold trim was a perfect complement to the china.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Fostoria glasses were also Mother’s, and the soup spoons came from my  mother-in-law’s kitchen.  From her I have even fewer things than from my mother, but she left me with a heart full of love.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe wine glasses have a story starting with the one in the middle. Years ago I was with my parents in an antique shop in North Carolina where they were then living.  For whatever reason the glasses caught my eye and when Daddy saw me holding one and turning it this way and that he said, “Sis, if you like those, why don’t we get them?”  Done, and so began my collection of mismatched etched stemware.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven the napkin rings hold their own story and remind me of the time when a daughter and I were to meet in London and go on to the Cotswolds.  At the last minute, her trip was cancelled thanks to an unexpected business decision, but I went on since my ticket was nonrefundable.  It turned out to be a wonderful solo adventure, and the napkin rings were a purchase at a small shop in the middle of nowhere filled with handmade items.  That explains the attraction!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, that’s the story of the table, and for me remembering the people and places that each piece represents makes it a great way to end the year.

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Tablescape Thursday

A Piece of Cake

I don’t know what it is about holidays this time of year and coconut cake, but the two just seem to go together.  Over the years, I’ve tried a number of recipes, some better than others but none a total reject.

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My very favorite is a recipe that was in Southern Living some years ago.  It combines several of my favorite things: coconut, lemon and cream cheese.  The cake is not difficult to make, especially if you use a yellow or white cake mix.  If you are really daring, chocolate works, too.  I’ve tried all of these, but I like best making the cake from scratch.

Between the layers is lemon curd.  Again, you can use a purchased curd, but it is so simple to make and the taste of fresh lemon is so appealing that it’s a shame not to use the real thing.   Here’s all there is to it:

1 c. sugar

1/4 c. cornstarch

1 c. boiling water

1/3 c. lemon juice

4 egg yolks, lightly beaten

2 t. lemon zest

1/3 c. lemon juice

2 T. butter

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan; whisk in boiling water.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Whisk about 1/4 of hot mixture into egg yolks; add to remaining hot mixture, whisking constantly. Add zest and juice.  Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened.  Whisk in butter and let cool, stirring from time to time.

The entire process takes 20-25 minutes and you can do it while the cake is baking.

When the cake layers (I make 3) have cooled, spread the lemon curd between the layers and frost with a cream cheese frosting that is 8 ounces of cream cheese, 1 t. vanilla and a box of powdered sugar mixed together.  Sprinkle generously with coconut and garnish with lemon slices, a pretty green leaf or sprigs of rosemary.

More often than not, there is no cake left at our house, but when there is I wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze it.  That makes for a pretty nice dessert next time company comes for dinner.

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Full Plate Thursday

Share Your Cup Thursday

Over and Done!

Christmas is over and done, and I have to confess to that being a relief.  In the days leading up to the holiday, I have to fight off being blue.

FamilyIt makes me sad that our small family,  which now includes sons-in-law and grandchildren, is rarely all together during the holiday season.

9780740784323_p0_v1_s192x300I miss reading The Night Before Christmas to kids

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand leaving cookies and milk for Santa.

I experience sadness remembering the people who are part of Christmases past and wish that I weren’t the only member of my original family still here.

But enough of that.   Today is a new day and with it the blues disappear.

HoustonI will enjoy time in Houston while awaiting the return to Maine

Roque Island, Mainewhere there is boating, exploring islands and spending time with family and friends.

lobsterWithout question I will eat more lobster!

Most of all, I plan to live each day to the fullest, to be grateful for what good health allows me to do, and to give lots of hugs!  That should get me through the months until next Christmas when I’ll probably again feel a little blue.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind