Although I never thought I was great at arranging flowers I seem to get by.
Antique yellowware bowl with flowers and small clay version of the Holy Family.
Dining room flowers
A small posy.
For the New Year’s Eve table I was going to try to use dried boughs of magnolia, boxwood, holly, and a few stalks from our Thanksgiving arrangement.
Dried magnolia with a lovely seed head.
To give the dark green leaves a little pizzazz I decided to spray paint some of them silver but apparently I’m out of silver so I tried copper. Not really my color but I gave it a go.
Copper spray paint enhanced magnolia.
Then I arranged the leaves and stems in an oblong crystal bowl with some small blue and green glass ball ornaments.
Could anything look sadder than this arrangement?
Maybe I should surround the angels with a wreath.
Since the table will, no doubt, be overladen with food I decided to go the plus-simple route: a small angel-faced planter and 2 candles.
And I’ll add hurricanes to the candles.
I hope you haven’t stopped by the blog today for creativity.
Plans for New Year’s Eve?
Charlie and I took in a late service on Christmas eve and planned to take it easy on Christmas Day. I was going to hang a couple of framed brass rubbings and maybe wash a window.
I put the arrow over the window which desperately needs cleaning.
There would be only two of us for dinner and we’d have the steaks my sister sent.
My sister also sent a blue Eiffel Tower and peacock ornaments in my blue/green Christmas color scheme.
At 10:30 in the morning our son called to say his plans had changed and they had no dinner arrangements. I asked him, his wife and friend to come to our house. Then I called my best friend to find out if she had plans for dinner. She also was available.
My friend is often the life of the party.
All of a sudden a laid back holiday for two turned into a full-fledged holiday dinner for six. We ate like kings and had lots of good fun and plenty of talk.
A full freezer is a boon for spontaneous dinner party.
I can only say how grateful I was for a fridge full of food and a freezer full of steaks.
Even though red was not in my Christmas repertoire this year I made an exception for the dinner table.
I asked Charlie to get his grandmother’s Christmas dishes from the attic and we set the table with a vintage green and red tablecloth and Spode Christmas Tree dishes.
Christmas Tree by Spode
The impromptu menu was as follows:
- Filet mignon and New York strip steaks
- Candied sweet potatoes
- Mashed potatoes
- Broccoli with cheese sauce
- Hot rolls
We ate so much that cappuccini and chocolate truffles were sufficient for dessert.
Did you have a big meal? What was your favorite dish?
My son couldn’t find Pumpkin Pie Spice coffee creamer at the grocery store. So popular I guess they can’t keep it in stock.
Making the creamer at home took about 10 minutes.
Carrie at Deliciously Organic solved our problem with a simple homemade recipe.
The ingredients in pumpkin pie spice: 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t nutmeg, 1/2 t ginger, 1/4 t cloves.
First I mix up my own pumpkin pie spice.
A little goes along way but this is a delicious mixture.
Then on to the creamer recipe:
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons pureed pumpkin
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk together milk, cream, pumpkin, pumpkin spice, and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When mixture begins to steam, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pour into a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator. Makes 1 pint.
I tried straining through a coffee filter but it didn’t work. I just poured it through a mesh strainer.
Hope everyone enjoys it.
Have you switched from store-bought to homemade on a favorite product?
Last week I finished the New Year’s Eve Party invitations and gave Charlie the task of handing them out. (I also emailed and facebooked folks we don’t see regularly.)
The cover of the 2014 New Year’s Eve invitation.
Next task, naturally, is the menu. Since New Year’s Eve is on Wednesday this year I want to be sure there are some items on the menu that can easily be made in advance.
A tile triviet awaits a steaming pot of soup which is on this year’s menu.
I can get started on the soup stock this weekend.
What go-to item is on your menu?
Actually while I was feverishly getting the house ready for Christmas I also developed pneumonia which really put me down.
The plan is for the Christmas tree to be in the empty space in the dining room.
Two of Santa’s helpers came by with a freshly cut Christmas tree harvested in western Maryland.
How happy and surprised was I when the tree was delivered.
Charlie cut off the bottom and stuck it in a bucket of water until next week when we’ll bring the tree stand down from the attic. It looks like fairly large tree but we really won’t know until we drag it inside and set it up.
The first saw Charlie tried (above) was not good (OBVIOUSLY) but we found another one and soon the bottom was off the tree.
I added some sprigs of boxwood to the crèche under the coffee table in the living room.
I also added a long piece of sparkly ribbon to the mantel — just what it needed.
After — a touch of ribbon.
Hopefully I’ll start to make more progress when the antibiotic takes effect. I’m sure to get a bolt of Christmas cheer when the children facilitate the church service today with songs they’ve been practicing for months.
Is something slowing your progress?
Actually I’ve been working on the living room curtain and they’re taking longer than expected. I was ready to hang up the prototype before I do all the hand sewing necessary for the pinch pleats but can’t find the curtain hooks. I’ve looked everywhere!
I can’t find the curtains hooks that I so carefully set aside for the living room curtain project.
So instead of curtains I’m focusing on invitation. In the past we used a Tiffany catalog to help “ring” in the New Year.
Tiffany inspired invitation.
Here’s the first glimpse of this year’s invitation.
This year the theme is very proppah, indeed.
One of the dishes I made for our Thanksgiving brunch is ham and Swiss cheese quiche.
Ham and Swiss Quiche
I started by slicing yellow onions and sautéing them slowly in butter/olive oil in a pan until they were golden brown. (For the party I did this step the day before.) I also lined pie plates with crust dough in advance so I could just fill them in the morning.
Charlie peeled the onions and I sliced them in the food processor with the 2m slicing blade.
To assemble the quiche I covered the bottom of the uncooked pie crust with a layer of the caramelized sliced onions. (This step is my secret weapon and works for any savory quiche.)
Slow-cooked caramelized onions line the pie crusts.
Then I dotted the onions with a layer of Swiss cheese, then ham, them more cheese.
Ham and cheese layered on the onions.
At a ratio 1 large egg per quarter cup of half and half (or milk or cream) I mixed together the custard and poured it over the solid ingredients.
Egg and cream mixture fills the pie shells.
I baked the quiches at 325 degrees until they looked done. (I know that comment is not helpful but I lost track of time and knew the custard was set when the tops were golden brown.)
Ham and cheese quiche
These quiches were a big hit. In addition to a layer of well-cooked onions on the bottom I can also recommend a Pillsbury Ready-made Pie Crusts from the grocery dairy case. For the pies above I used Trader Joe’s Frozen Pie Crusts which, to my mind, weren’t as good as the Pillsbury.
Do you have a recipe with a secret ingredient?