Friday, January 5, 2018

Christmas "Cheer" Luncheon 2017

Jewell is a varsity cheerleader this year. She cheers for the Ezekiel Academy Knights. To say it has been a blessing to her would be an understatement. She has made friends with a wonderful group of young ladies. It was my honor to host the cheerleaders' Christmas party this year. I decided to make it an affair for the girls and their mamas, too! 

I wanted to do something besides traditional Santas and Christmas trees, and as you know, this red and black buffalo check print is EVERYWHERE this year. It was perfect for this party in particular, because Ezekiel's colors are red and black.

The moms sat in the kitchen, and the girls were in the dining room. I started both tables with my white linen tablecloths, then added a runner made of buffalo check with matching napkins. (I bought one VERY long piece of fabric and then cut my runners and napkins. That way, I got to use my 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby.)

I used my dark green Noritake "Sweet Swirl" iced tea stems in the kitchen, along with my wood-look chargers with pinecones embossed along the edges.

A birchbark-covered tri-sectioned box holds mason jars and tealights. Jewell gathered the pinecones for me early in the season, and I baked them at 250 degrees for about an hour to make sure they were critter-free!

The white dinner plates are "White Satin" by Nikko (my everyday pattern). The flatware is "Austen" by Yamazaki.

The dining room was set for seven (one young lady was out of town) and featured a few different components.

The red lanterns were last seen as part of Brack's 12th Birthday tablescape. The big bell jar has been used a couple of times, most recently in a cozy little seafood dinner for two Gerald and I had last summer.  

The dinner plates are the same as I used at the kitchen table, but the chargers were borrowed from my mother. They look like a woven leather.

The glasses are called "Stax" and are a vintage pattern by Libbey. The color is called smoke.

The flatware came from Target fifteen years ago. The pattern is "Abigail" by Hampton Silversmiths.

Everything is sitting on a piece of old barn wood. It came from my neighbor across the street. They are tearing down the old barn (only because it is unsafe!), and they are using a lot of it in their home as trim and even parts of the ceiling! Chuck cut me several pieces to use as runners. No distressing needed!

I placed some black river rocks in the bottom of the jar to hold the candle in place.

Tealights were scattered the length of the barn wood slab.

This picture shows a little of my "new" dining room! More on this in the coming days.

The girls were playing the "saran wrapped gift" game.

The end came down to Jewell and Emily Ann and let's just say, it got exciting!

We mamas exchanged gifts, too. Who doesn't love a little dirty Santa?

These are some sweet ladies!

I have grown to love them as much as their girls!

It's such a blessing to have good friends! This holiday season may have already drawn to a close, but you know me...I'm already thinking about next year!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Dutch Baby...Cooking with Brack

Brack has had the cooking bug lately, so I've been trying to indulge him. We've made several things together, but at the rate we're going, we'll all weigh about 300 pounds soon. We were sitting on the couch together last night scrolling through Pinterest. He pinned a couple of desserts he wanted to make, then he said the craziest thing. He said, "Let's look through the recipes you've already pinned and see what we could make." 

Huh? Say what? You mean, actually go back and look at a board I've created and then, really make something? Humm. Interesting concept! I seem to treat Pinterest more as an inspiration board these days. Plus, there's the whole "Pinterest fail" thing. You know what I mean. 

But it did get me to thinking. I have scores of cookbooks that are perfectly good. I also have a box full of tried-and-true recipe cards. Gasp!! 

He wanted to make breakfast this morning for everyone since we are all still on vacation. (One of the many joys of homeschooling and working for a university!) I thought about what I had on hand and what everyone might like as a special treat. We came up with a Dutch Baby. 

What's a Dutch Baby? Well imagine a pancake and a crepe got married. That's about it! Above is what it looks like right out of the oven.

I've made these before when the kids were little. Usually I add fresh blueberries, but we had some gorgeous raspberries that needed to be used. It's really simple...

Dutch Baby

Add three tablespoons butter to a cast iron skillet and place in a cold oven. Preheat oven to 400. 

Meanwhile, to a blender, add 3 eggs, 3/4 cup of all purpose flour, one tablespoon plus one teaspoon of sugar, 3/4 cup of milk (that has been heated in the microwave for about 30 seconds), two teaspoons of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth.

Once oven is preheated, carefully remove skillet and swirl butter to cover the entire bottom. Slowly pour in the batter and return to the oven for 20-25 minutes or until set and golden brown.

We decided to make a homemade raspberry syrup to pour on top, so while the Dutch Baby was cooking, I added one pint of raspberries to a small pot. I then added 1/4 cup sugar and a tablespoon of water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. I let it simmer for about ten minutes then used a potato masher to crush the fruit. It stayed on low until we were ready to eat it.

This recipe probably serves eight...but we just cut it in quarters! I added the raspberry syrup then sprinkled confectioner's sugar on top. I garnished it with a few fresh raspberries we held back. 

Actually, I should say WE made this. Brack did it all! I talked him through it, but it was all him! I'm so glad he's interested in cooking right now. I will encourage him as long as he is interested! It's a great skill to learn, but mainly, it's precious time with my baby.

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Snakes and Snails...A Baby Boy Shower

I have a big family, but when you add in the family of my family, it grows exponentially! And I love them just as much as my blood relatives! 

Back in June, me, my mother, and my sister-in-law, Clancy, hosted a baby shower for my other sister-in-law's sister-in-law. Clear as mud, right? OK - the shower was for Stacy, who is married to my brother's wife's brother. See...not so hard!

Edward and Stacy live in Florida, but they spend every Thanksgiving at our house along with the rest of my extended family. When we found out they were expecting, we knew we wanted to host a shower for Stacy. We invited the friends of the future grandmother, Mama Sue, since she lives here and not in Florida where the baby will be born. 

My mother hosted the shower at her home (next door to me - how convenient!). I had done the "snakes, snails and puppy dog tails" theme for my cousin's wife a couple of year's ago. We changed it up though. You can check out the original here.

Here's the whole spread. We used my mother's dining room table to set up a buffet.

Her sideboard was the perfect place for coffee.

We started on this end of the table so they could go all the way around the buffet, then funnel back in to the living room to sit. Mother has a set of white dishes, too. I supplemented a few so we'd have enough.

Here's the floral arrangement for the buffet. I picked up the sunflowers and the white filler flower at Walmart. They rest came out of my mother's yard. It was June, so everything was pretty and green!

I love this little wicker box. It hold napkins and adds some texture to the table. It also picks up the burlap brown. The striped runner was used in the Snails 1.0 shower, as well. I had a big table to cover, so I just overlapped various clothes randomly.

We planned a Saturday morning brunch for the shower. Breakfast is yummy anytime of day, and it was easy to find all kinds of goodies to dress up simple ham biscuits.

We had a basket of ham biscuits...

And a smaller basket of plain ones. These are Mary B's tea biscuits. You can find them in the frozen bread section at Winn Dixie and other smaller grocery store chains. They are a little more than bite-sized. The perfect dainty Southern delicacy!

This beautiful fruit salad was so cool and refreshing. The orange cream sauce is made from one cup sour cream, two tablespoons of orange juice and two tablespoons of honey. Mix well and refrigerate. It is tangy and a little sweet. I won first prize with this back in 4th grade 4H! Try it with apple slices, too.

The fruit salad was a little of everything that was ripe at the time. I had some beautiful blackberries, cantaloupe, strawberries, and blueberries. I also had some firm "apple pears" which I diced and added. They added a little firmer texture.

It was a brunch, so we had to have grits! This casserole is delicious. Recipe coming soon.

Mama made some of her easy banana muffins, as well as some brownie bites.

These mini muffins were a nice little sweet treat.

I also made a vanilla poundcake for dessert. It is delicious alone, but I actually put a little fruit salad on mine to make it more like a strawberry shortcake! Yumm.

I went ahead and cut a few slices before the shower, but left the cake covered until it was time to eat so it wouldn't dry out.

We set up a beverage station with ice water and white grape juice punch. Those were my greatgrandmother's punch cups.

This pic is a little over-exposed due to the morning light streaming in, but you can see the little snail on the washtub. I found these at Dollar General and picked up a dozen. They were scattered all over the table. Stacy picked up a couple of her favorite (there were several different colors to chose from) and put them in the baby's nursery.

White grape juice punch is so simple - equal parts white grape juice and sprite - chilled well.

I always try to have ice water on hand for those who prefer it.

The buffet was the perfect place for our coffee bar.

I placed one of the shower invitations on this cute blue stand. I pulled it and the blue lantern tea light holder out of my Fourth of July decorations.

By adding lots of cut greenery from Mama's yard, I was able to get two beautiful arrangements out of the one package of sunflowers and white filler. You can see a little of a sign in the picture above. It reads, "That's what little boys are made of". Even though my little boy is twelve and a half, this still hangs above the door in his bathroom!

I found the banner cards at Michael's. They were $1 for a pack! All I did was stamp them with the snail and then string them on burlap cording. 

These coffee decanters really come in handy for a party. I used my chalk labels to identify each one.

Cream and sugar, anyone? You can see the happy mother-to-be in the mirror!

Here's another cute little snail creeping along...

Stacy and the hostesses (from left - me, my mother, Stacy, and my SIL, Clancy). 

Stacy with her mother, Sue, on the left and her mother-in-law, Sue, on the right!

We were so excited to be able to host this shower for Stacy, Edward, and the grandmas! We love them all. Baby Theo is here now, and I can't wait to see him at Thanksgiving. I've already called dibs on holding him first!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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