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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Garden Table

Hello Friends.

How is your week going?  The weekend is nearly here.  

Today I am sharing a tablescape with Tablescape Thursdays hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch.  Spring is in the air with this garden tea party setting.  

You will remember the green plates from my St. Patrick's Day table.  Today, I am using them as a charger.  I added layers with the hand-painted floral plates I bought at Goodwill last week and little personal casseroles I bought at Garden Ridge.  The pink napkins were from one of last year's estate auctions.  

Each place setting has a different spring floral teacup and wooden egg.
I started with one centerpiece, but couldn't pull it together to my liking.  I ended up with this sweet vignette.  The pitcher and dessert plates are from Home Goods.  The pitcher is perched atop the basketweave plates I bought at Goodwill.  I complimented the pieces with a few floral sprigs and a candle.      


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Alphabe Thursday: Y is for Yawn

We are nearing the end of the Alphabe-Thursday school year.  Today, we are submitting posts that begin with the letter Y.  Please visit Miss Jenny's class to see other submissions.  

Y is for Yawn.  

yawn Verb /yôn/

yawned past tense; yawned past participle; yawns 3rd person singular present; yawning present participle
  1. Involuntarily open one's mouth wide and inhale deeply due to tiredness or boredom
    • he began yawning and looking at his watch
  2. Be wide open
    • a yawning chasm  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Looking for Signs of Spring

Sunday, the sun was shining brightly and I decided to take my camera out to look for signs of spring.  

The sky was bright blue with only a few wispy clouds.  The sunshine was deceiving because it was bitter cold, barely in the 30's.  Still, I set out in my backyard for signs.  
My neighbor's daffodils were having none of it.  They were hanging their heads trying to shield themselves from the cold.  
I did find a few buds on the Lilac bush at the back of our yard.

I was a bit disappointed at the lack of findings and fear it means we are still in for some winter weather.  Maybe I'll find more next weekend.  


I will be linking this post to Outdoor Wednesdays. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Poem

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

~ Emily Dickinson

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Name that movie.  

I have a confession.  Remember all those St. Patrick's Day posts I wrote?  The recipes...the decor...the traditions....  Well, guess who forgot to wear green???  I was half way to work and realized the date.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
Why am I just telling you this now?  I didn't want to admit it to you.  After all, my Aunt Cheryl already admonished me...and threatened to disown me.  Not really, but it sounds dramatic, doesn't it.

The truth of the matter is I've had a string of bad luck ever since.  I think the Leprechauns are mad at me.  
Last weekend, I dropped my wonderful treasures I found at the Antique Mall.  You can read about this mishap HERE.   In retrospect, I'm quite certain a Leprechaun knocked the bag out of my hands.  Yep, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

So what happened this weekend?  Ugh!  Alright if you MUST know.  

One of the less than joyous aspects of turning 50 is the peach fuzz that now resides on my face.  Because spring is now here and the sun is actually shining, I decided to get rid of the fuzz since it catches the sunlight. 

I've used hair removal creams before with no problem.  Feeling confident with its effectiveness, I slathered it all over my cheeks and chin-line.  Hmmm, I've never noticed that tingling before.  Oh well, I can handle it for 8 minutes.  

Eight minutes later, I wiped off the cream...and the hair....and a layer or two of skin!  What the _______ (fill in the blank)!  Holy Cow!  This burns.  I better wash my face to get the remaining traces of the cream off my skin.   

Note to self: Noxema is NOT a good choice.  Wah-ah!  By now, I am doing an UN-happy dance.  

Do you remember the scene in The Grinch where the young Grinch shaves to impress Martha May Whovier?  Remember the results?  Cuts and abrasions all over his face....  That's me!  

Jordan tried wrapping an ice pack on my face to alleviate the burning.  It didn't really help.  

I am a hot mess and dread having to go to work tomorrow. 



Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mega Millions: I didn't win...but

Did you have tickets for the by Mega Millions drawing last night?  I did.  I was in a pool at work and we pooled our money here at home and bought some tickets.  Alas, we did not have the winning ticket.  In fact, we didn't even win a couple of bucks. 

Am I sad and disappointed?  NO!  Why?  Because there are several awesome giveaways going on in the World of Blog. 

Linda at Coastal Charm is giving one lucky entrant this adorable striped bag.  She will draw a winner tomorrow, so hop over and throw your name in the hat. 
Would you enjoy a $50 credit to CSN Stores?  Visit Diane at Lavender Dreams to enter her giveaway.  She will draw a winner on March 28, so be sure to stop over and enter. 

Two giveaways end on March 31.  One comes from Shannon at North Dakota Kitchen .  Shannon's package includes the following:
  • 1951 copy The Art of Serving Food Attractively 
  • March 2011 Bon Appetit Magazine 
  • 1 bottle each of  Hot Sauce, Marinade Sauce, and Wing Sauce 
  • Paula Dean food tags and paper napkin rings 
  • 1 Silicone pot handle cover 
  • Silicone finger grips 
  • Assorted food packaging materials  
The other giveaway ending on March 31 comes from Tales from an OC Cottage.  You do NOT want to miss out on this amazing giveaway.  There are too many items in this giveaway package to list so hop on over and check it out.

Celestina is giving this precious little bunny to one lucky reader.  Wouldn't you love to add this little gem to your spring decor?  Visit Celestina Marie Designs to enter to win.  

Finally, Creating Vintage Charm is offering chances to win one of three fantastic gift packages full of pretties.  Winners will be drawn April 15.  

I just received the spring issue of this beautiful magazine and I love it!  Our friend Cindy Adkins contributed some of her lovely creations for this issue.  Sigh.  While you are entering the giveaway, treat yourself to a copy.  It will be on your doorstep in just a couple of days. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sunday Dinner: Not Always a Feast

Hello Friends. 

I hope you are having a splendid first week of Spring 2011.  

Today I am visiting Michelle at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.  Have you visited Michelle lately?  Her novel Gone With a Handsomer Man is now on bookstore shelves.  You can also visit Michelle's website HERE.   
Sunday dinner at our house is normally very special.  Jordan and Ashlee are both home and I have all day to prepare something special.  This past Sunday, I went another route.  We had homemade Italian subs.  
Our local antique mall also houses a farmers market featuring Amish meats and cheeses.  Since my visits are infrequent, I tend to buy a lot when I do.  We had a nice variety of meats (ham, salami, pepperoni, bologna), cheeses (provolone, Swiss, and cheddar), and toppings (olive salad, onion, tomatoes, spinach, pickles, peppers).  Everyone could have their sub just as they like it. For dessert, we had fresh strawberries over strawberry cream rolls.  YUM!  You gotta love an easy dinner menu.
Speaking of dinner menus, Lynn announced April's celebrity chef for her monthly Celebrity Cook-along.  You may recall, March's celebrity chef was Ina Garten.  You can see my contribution HERE.  Ree Drummond, aka Pioneer Woman, is the April celebrity chef.
So start testing Ree's recipes now, that's the fun part, so you will be ready for April 15.  You can find tons of fantastic recipes on Ree's website or in her cookbook, Pioneer Woman Cooks.       


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Alphabe Thursday: Letter : X is for Xavier

Today I am once again joining Jenny Matlock for her Alphabe-Thursday meme.  We have been working our way through the alphabet since last fall.  This week, we are honoring the letter X.  Please hop over to Jenny's blog and check out all the other X entries.  

If you are an American, you would have to be living under a rock in the middle of the desert to not know that we are smack dab in the middle of March Madness.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this phenomenon,  the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) holds a tournament to determine the National Champion in basketball.  This tournament is dubbed March Madness because it is held in March.  

March Madness is a very big deal and is responsible for much of the non-work-related Internet usage during work hours throughout the US.  Many offices run brackets with the top three prognosticators winning money.  This year, our company is running a bracket with gift cards for prizes.  
As you know, I am a football fan.  I don't follow basketball nor do I have a great deal of knowledge about the game.  I entered one bracket (for money) some years ago and faired poorly.  This year, however, I decided to enter the free company bracket.  

After the first day of play, yours truly was sitting atop the office standings.  I have since dropped to 4th place, but I am still holding my own.

One of my losses was the Xavier v. Marquette game.  I chose Xavier to win....they normally have a good team....they were the Number 6 seed over Marquette's 11th seed....they are an Ohio team.  
 Xavier, you let me down.  


UPDATE: Since writing this post, I have dropped to 31st in the brackets with little hope of rebounding (pun intended) because I had Notre Dame in the finals.  I'm glad I have no money riding on my bracket.   

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thrifting Highs and Lows

After an extended hiatus, I went thrifting over the weekend.  The sunshine and warmer weather must have had the same affect on others as everywhere I went there were crowds.  

The shopping started Friday during my lunch hour.  I visited a Goodwill that is close to my office.  Since I was just looking, I didn't get a cart.  There are lingering red marks on my arms from trying to carry everything.  

Want to see what I found for a whopping $7.18?
The plates are even painted on the backs.
Four hand-painted floral plates, Four basket-weave plates, and a French motif hand-painted plate.  You will see these pretty plates on my spring table.

Saturday, I went out on the town shopping.  First stop: the local Goodwill, of course.  Wouldn't you think I would learn from Friday's trip to get a cart?  I didn't.  Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat their mistakes.
I found these unique glass coffee cups for $.50 each.  I think they will be ideal for iced coffee or cappuccino.  I also found this sweet and springy lotus bowl for $1.00.  After I donated an extra dollar to Goodwill, I left the store with a full bag and $3.18 less in my wallet.  
My next stop was to the local antique mall.  This visit provided both the high point and the low point of my shopping excursion.  I found an interesting glass chimney that I thought would be fun for creating different vignettes.  What really excited me was a beautiful pink transferware bowl.  It was only $3.50.  SCORE!  I was flying high as the clouds.  My mind was all aflutter with ideas of how to implement this pretty little bowl into my spring decor....until I dropped my bag.  



NO!  Say it isn't so!

It is interesting glass chimney.... my beautiful pink transferware bowl.... reduced to a bag of debris.  Do you know how much it hurts to fall from a cloud onto the earth in a split second?   OUCH!

What are ya goin' to do?  Sometimes s%#t happens.  I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and skulked away.  Better luck next time.   

I will be joining Linda at Coastal Charm for Nifty Thrifty Tuesday.  

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Seasons

Happy Spring!

As I reflect on the past few months, I realize what a real whiner I've been.  I'd like to say I won't ever return to that mind-set....
YEP, I'd LIKE to be able to say that, but I'm a northerner and winter will return again to torture me.  The ETA of my next Winter Whine Session is on or about November 1, 2011.  In my defense, it has been an especially harsh winter here in Ohio.  Mother Nature showered us with colder than normal temperatures and one snow and/or ice storm after the other.   
The one good thing I can say about winter is that it makes me appreciate spring all the more.  I have a cousin you lived in Hawaii while in the Navy.  He missed the changing seasons.  I guess too much of a good thing loses its luster.  I'd be willing to test that theory if anyone wants to sponsor my experiment.     

Enough of looking back.  Sweet Spring is here at last!  Woo-hoo!  (Happy Dance)
Did you see the moon Saturday night? 
Did you think it looked larger and closer than usual?  It is called a Perigee Moon or a Super Full Moon.  A Super Full Moon occurs about every 18 years.  To read more about the Perigee Moon, visit Pat at Mille Fiori Favoriti HERE to read all about it.  
I love the halo of light emitting from the moon in these photos. 


Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Welcomed Visitor

Hello Friends!
I'm so excited today.  After months of courting, dreaming, and preparing, Spring is coming for an extended visit.  As I sit here having breakfast and waiting for her arrival, I think about all the wonderful things she will bring. 
She'll bring fragrant flowers for us to enjoy in our gardens and in our homes...

Sunshine, crisp blue skies, rainbows, and leaves on the trees...
Ball fields, playgrounds, and parks will be alive with the laughter of carefree children.
Welcome dear Spring.  We've been expecting you.  Feel free to stay for a while.   


I will be linking this post to Mosaic Monday

Friday, March 18, 2011

End of an Era: Endeavour

Hello Friends. 
Last week I showed you HERE some fantastic photos, courtesy of Steven Hunt, of Space Shuttle Discovery's final lift-off before being retired.  Today, I have another treat for you.  My wonderful cousin, Steven, has allowed me to use his photos of Space Shuttle Endeavour being readied for its final mission.  
Endeavour is the youngest of the of the space shuttle fleet.  It is scheduled for an April 19 launch from Kennedy Space Center.  Endeavour is slated for a 14-day mission which will include four space walks.  Its main goal is to deliver a $1.5 billion astrophysics experiment called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station.  The spectrometer will be used to study cosmic rays and to search for anitmatter.  
Endeavour was constructed to replace Challenger and flew its first mission in May, 1992.  It is named after the British HMS Endeavour, the ship that took Captain James Cook on his first voyage of discovery in 1768.  This is why it is spelled in the British English manner instead of the American English spelling, Endeavor.
Endeavour's crew will be lead by Commander Mark Kelly.  You may recall Mark Kelly's wife, congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was seriously wounded in a Tucson, Arizona shooting where several others were killed.  Miraculously, she is making great strides and hopes to attend Endeavour's final launch.

Endeavour's Stats
  • 24 Missions
  • 4,429 Orbits
  • 280 Days in orbit
 Endeavour's Final Crew
  • Mark Kelly, Commander
  • Gregory Johnson, Pilot
  • Michael Fincke, Mission Specialist
  • Greg Chamitoff, Mission Specialist
  • Andrew Feustel, Mission Specialist
  • Roberto Vittori, European Space Agency Astronaut

I will be linking this post to Blue Monday and Outdoor Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Alphabe-Thursday: W is for Waterford

Today we will again visit Jenny Matlock for Alphabe-Thursday. This week’s post is brought to you by the letter, W.  In keeping with the St. Patrick’s Day and Irish theme of the week, let's visit Waterford, Ireland.
Waterford is situated in Munster Province in the southeastern part of Ireland. Founded in 914 by Viking traders, it is the oldest city in Ireland. It boasts more than 90 miles of coastline, 49 beaches, river valleys, lakes, and two easily accessible mountain ranges.
Two miles outside Waterford City, Waterford Castle sets on its own 310 acre island on the River Suir. It is surrounded by woodlands and an 18-hole championship golf course. The castle boasts 19 bedrooms with views of the surrounding estate.
No visit to Waterford would be complete without a trip to the House of Waterford Crystal, maker of Waterford Crystal, Wedgewood and Royal Doulton.  Let's see if we can find something for St. Patrick's Day.
Shamrock Crystal Egg

Waterford Crystal
Celtic Cross Rosary
I hope you enjoyed our visit to Waterford.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

I am very excited to be joining my friend Lynn, at Happier Than a Pig in Mud, this week for her first Celebrity Chef of the Month Party.  This month's celebrity chef is Ina Garten, AKA Barefoot Contessa.  In keeping with our Irish theme, I tested Ina's recipe for Irish Soda Bread.
Irish Soda Bread is perfect paired with Corned Beef and Cabbage or Irish Stew.  It is a very dense and rustic bread, making it ideal for dipping into the broth of these two dishes. 
Ina Garten's Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Monday, March 14, 2011

St. Patrick's Day: Blog Crawl and Irish Stew

Hello Friends. 

I'm excited to be joining Cuisine Kathleen for her annual St. Patrick's Day Blog Crawl.  I hope you will join me as we celebrate this fun holiday with fellow bloggers. 
Today I am sharing my recipe for Irish Stew.  The original recipe came from Jeff Smith aka the Frugal Gourmet.  However, I have changed the recipe so much that I now call it mine.
 Irish Stew
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Bay Leaves
2 Pounds Beef Stew Meat, cut into 1 1/2-2 inch pieces
1 Large Onion, peeled and sliced
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped
1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary
6 Tablespoons Flour
2 Cups Beef Stock
1 Bottle Beer
1/2 Pound Carrots, chopped
2 Potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 1/2-2 inch pieces
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon Flat Parsley, chopped

Heat 6-quart casserole or pot  and add oil and bay leaves.  Cook the bay leaves for a moment and the add the beef.  Brown the beef , on high, thoroughly.  Add the sliced onion and cook until translucent.  Reduce the heat and add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, and flour.  Stir until smooth.  Cook for a few moments to allow the flour to cook. 

Add the beer and beef stock.  Simmer while stirring until the stew thickens.  Add the remaining ingredients except parsley.  Stir, cover, and place in the oven preheated to 275* for two hours, stirring occasionally.
Before serving, add the parsley and check to see if it needs more salt or pepper.  I like to serve this with Irish Soda Bread.  I will be sharing Ina Garten's recipe tomorrow.