The Witch Is In!

tablescapeLook who just landed in my pumpkin patch!  It took them a while to get to Maine because they probably stopped in to see Mary and Kathleen.  If memory serves me correctly, they are old friends.

tablescape/fallThe gals came in a flurry of leaves and landed on this cloth from TJ Maxx (thank you, Sue) which has all the colors of fall…red, gold, orange, green.  What a wonderful background for the pumpkins and gourds that I can’t get enough of these days.  

tablescapeIt was easy selecting dishes to go with the cloth.  Yellow plates served as chargers for these wonderful Italian terra cotta bowls in perfect colors.  

tablescapeShould I mention they are also from TJ Maxx?  When you live in Rockport, Maine, that is the best place to shop for table goods.  Oh, since we will gather at this table on Halloween, it is the perfect time to use these spooky stems, another purchase from TJ several years ago.

tablescapeThe copper colored flatware from Target is making its first appearance.  Remember, I recently made a trip there, stopping along the way, and was so excited to find new things for the table.

tablescape/napkinHiding in the napkin drawer was a set of multi patterned napkins that might have been made for this table.  A little accordion folded fan works every time for a special treatment, and I do like manipulating anything cloth!

tablescapeAdd salad plates of green and orange and the table is ready.  This one was so much fun to put together because it is full of color and texture with a touch of whimsy.

Photo from My Recipes

Photo from My Recipes

For dinner, we will take a clue from Yvonne and have a Chicken Cobbler Casserole right from the pages of Southern Living and a delicata squash salad from Make Mine Lemon that I can’t wait to try.  Check the recipes out…..they are winners.

Happy Halloween, friends, and thank you for stopping by!


Tablescape Thursday

Foodie Friday

Bountiful Color

flowers/tablescapeWith these colors already on the table, how could I not play off them and create a setting as bright and happy?

tablescapeAs I puzzled about what dishes to select, I opened a cabinet to get something else and two sets of plates jumped right out.  At different times both were gotten at my favorite place TJ Maxx.

tablescapeAll are different in color and design and reflect an Italian theme which made it easy to decide what kind of food would be on the table.

tablescapeFrom here the going was easy.  Lime green placemats repeat color in the runner and the dishes,

tablescapeand an assortment of colorful napkins tucked into napkin rings added to the liveliness.  Can you guess how seating is determined?  Guys will be at the places with olive rimmed plates and black napkin rings while gals will have square plates and clusters of grapes.  All can choose their own place so long as it’s not next to a spouse!

tablescapeI love the way this table came together, almost by itself.  It took minimal effort, it is cheerful and fun, it mixes color and pattern all of which is my favorite kind of table.

food/pasta sauceNow that the table is done, I’m thinking a hearty sauce with lots of Italian sausage served over homemade pasta will be perfect.  Care to join us?

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Tablescape Thursday

Think White

“Think white,” said a blog friend Kathleen, who challenged her readers to come up with a fall tablescape done in white plus one color.  Now for me that is hard since most everything I have is about color.

white tablescapeI thought I’d be passing on her challenge until I saw these pattypan squash on a roadside table.  Not only did they get my attention because of their size, but they are, yep, white!  They are the beginning of inspiration, and I happily left dollars in the jar funded by honesty. 

white tablescapeThe pattypans need company, so off to my favorite farm stand, Beth’s.  There I found white pumpkins, eggplant and acorn squash.  How perfect!

white tablescapeI collected a few twigs thinking they somehow would work into the naturalness of the setting that is taking shape in my head. 

white tablescapeNow for the dishes.  No all white here,

white tablescapebut perhaps Kathleen won’t mind if I cheat a little and hide the pattern with a clever napkin fold.

 white tablescapeThe black napkin actually provides a better background than the plate for the white pumpkin .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA With the addition of glitzy and spooky black stems just gotten from TJ Maxx and black handled flatware from Maine’s favorite department store, Reny’s, the table is coming together.

white tablescapeAll done except for finding some white votives.  The table is simple, the style that best suits us, but I must confess to it having been more of a challenge than one might think.

white tablescapeWalking past it later in the day, I love how the late afternoon sun makes the white come alive with a golden radiance.  I am looking forward to having tonight’s dinner here, but I doubt that it will be all white!  

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Let’s Dish

Tablescape Thursday

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Company’s Coming

When folks come to visit, I like to have the first night’s dinner well underway when they arrive so they can settle in and relax after what has probably been a long day of travel.  Maine is not the easiest place to get to!

tablescapeAlready on the breakfast room table are these wonderful antique beer bottles, but instead of being filled with beer, they hold a stem or two of near season’s end hydrangeas.  I love how the bloom changes from white to green as it matures.

tablescapeDinner is a casual affair, so I’m going for comfort with simple black square plates from Ikea  on these placemats of many colors.  I love the flared top of the placemat which creates just enough space for a glass.

tablescapeHmmm, there are salad plates to match the larger ones, but now seems a good time to use the black and white ones scored at Goodwill last week.  I’m beginning to like shopping there for new treasures!

wine bottle holderThe wine bottle holder is one that I brought back from a spring trip to Vietnam, and it is a definite conversation piece as everyone is intrigued by how it stays balanced!

tablescapeAdded to the mix are the much used King’s Crown thumbprint glasses and flatware from TJ Maxx, another of my favorite shopping haunts.

Now, it’s to the kitchen to start dinner which features very fresh scallops.  I promise you this dish is what we call a real moaner as moans of appreciation replace words at the table!

scallops/mushroom couscous risottoCarmelized Scallops with Mushroom Couscous Risotto


2 T. olive oil

2 T. finely diced yellow onion

1 t. minced garlic

1 c. Israeli couscous (I like the tricolored)

1 1/4 c. water

2 t. sea salt

In a 3-4 quart saucepan, saute onions in olive oil over medium high heat.  When they start to brown, add garlic, stir for 1 minute, then add water, couscous and sea salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir gently.

Mushroom Risotto

1 T. unsalted butter

4 T. diced yellow onion

4 t. minced garlic

2 c. oyster mushrooms cut in 1/2″ pieces

1 c. heavy cream

prepared couscous

2 T. chopped parsley

2 T. chopped chives

Preheat large saute pan over medium high heat.  Melt butter and saute onions, garlic and mushrooms until they start to brown around the edges.   Add cream and salt.  Bring to a boil, add couscous, breaking up any clumps.  Cook until most of the cream has soaked into the mixture.  Gently fold in herbs and adjust salt and pepper.


1 T. canola oil

1 1/2 lbs.  sea scallops

1/2 c. sweet Vermouth

1 c. heavy cream

Preheat saute pan over high heat.  When hot, add oil and immediately add scallops with a flat side down.  Sear only one side until you see a light brown caramelization coming up the sides.  Remove from heat and add vermouth.  Gently remove scallops from pan to a room temperature casserole dish.  Add cream to pan and return to high heat.  Bring to a boil, then immediately pour over scallops and let rest for 2-3 minutes to finish cooking scallops.

To serve place a serving of “risotto” in the center of a bowl or rimmed plate.  Place scallops around the risotto and pour 3-4 T. of sauce over the scallops.  Garnish with parsley and chives.  Makes 4 servings.

This dish is just as good as it looks and is quite easy to prepare.  Using couscous for the risotto takes the pain out of making it and yields a surefire success.  As with any seafood dish, the real key is having good and fresh seafood.  To complete this dinner, all you need is a green salad and some crusty bread to “sop” up the sauce.  No one will leave the table unhappy!

By the way, this recipe is inspired by one in a beautiful cookbook Fresh From Maine.

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Full Plate Thursday

Tablescape Thursday

Foodie Friday

Foodtastic Friday

On the Menu Monday

Sprucing Up

The granddaughters are 10 and 12, old enough now not to draw on the walls with magic marker or put dirty feet and hands all over them, so it seems a good time to spruce up their room a bit.


Twelve Days of Christmas by Rachel Griffin

New coats of paint go a long way to freshen up their room,  and the colors in this wonderful piece of fiber art are the inspiration.

bedroom decorSome things, like these pieces from an antique shop, will stay the same

bedroom decorand work great as an over the bed detail.  They are also a handy place to keep favorite books and stuffed animals which still slip into bed at night.

girls roomThe little washstand from Anthropologie serves as a lamp table

girls roomand new pillows and quilts from TJ Maxx suggest bird sounds and the color of blooming things that are just outside the windows.

girls room

 This old pine bureau seemed a great complement for the pieces over the beds.  Originally,  I thought to paint it  but have decided to leave as is.  What do you think?

girls roomFor all the little extras that are often left on the floor, maybe the bench with pull out drawers will be an incentive for neatness.  We’ll see how that goes.

girls roomThe sun comes shining brightly into this room in the early morning and while these curtains won’t darken the room, they do soften the light.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAdditionally, hanging them was a nice little project for the hubby and was done without too much fuss and only one dropped screw!

girls roomAll finished, the same space has a new look that was accomplished with little effort.  Now, all we need is the girls to come liven it up.


Seasonal Sundays

Metamorphosis Monday

Make It Pretty Monday

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A Final Tweak

IMG_2190Over the last few weeks, our table has gone from this

holiday tablescapeto this

holiday tableto this with just a slight tweak.

holiday tableIt only took a minute to replace the runner with yards of muslin that make the trees look like they are sitting on snow and the crystal bells with Santas and snow globes.

holiday tableFavorite Spode Christmas dishes come to the table

holiday tableand sit on a perfectly matching placemat which I found this summer at TJ Maxx.  I knew they would come in handy!

holiday tableSoup bowls in green atop napkins in holiday plaid add a touch of color and delightful little crackers a touch of fun.

holiday tableSilver is shining, glasses are sparkling, and I’m off to the kitchen to prepare the next meal which will have gingerbread soufflé as a most special dessert.  

SantaAnd look who just happened to stop in.  Do you think Santa would like a glass of eggnog or maybe a taste of soufflé?  Come back tomorrow and join us.  I’ll even share the recipe.

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A Taste of Thai

I like Thai food, and thanks to a Thai exchange student, I learned that it wasn’t so hard to prepare once the most used ingredients were on hand.  Thinking it would be fun for our gourmet group to try something new, I decided on a Thai evening.

In our group, the hostess plans the menu and assigns a dish to each of the other three couples.  That way we share recipes and experience making an unfamiliar dish.  Best of all, it means the host couple doesn’t have to do all the work.

My favorite part of hostessing is setting the table.  I’m not sure how a family table in Thailand would be set, so I invented one using what could be found around the house and adding a few items from the Hong Kong market.  It started with this figure which came some years ago from a vendor at the International Quilt Festival, an annual Houston event.

She is mixed with “lucky” bamboo and saki cups to create a centerpiece that if not Thai is at least related to that part of the world!

Simple white dishes from TJ Maxx’s Palm collection rest on  colorful placemats from World Market.  The floral design remind me of delicate pen and ink drawings from China or Japan.

My very first handwoven napkins from years ago are tied with jute to hold chop sticks in place.

Finally, blue and white bowls with an Oriental theme

and an eclectic array of wine glasses that are not at all Thai were added to complete the tablescape.

All that’s missing are the friends who will gather for laughter and fun.

Today I’m joining

Let’s Dish

Thursday Favorite Things