Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Celebrating Valentines Day and a Tablescape

How do you celebrate Valentines Day?  We don't have any particular tradition here.  Of course I love a romantic dinner with Shawn but we are both such homebodies that going out on the busiest dinner date night of the year really isn't that appealing to either of us, not to mention he has some nightmares about Valentines Day in the restaurant business that I think he'd rather just forget.  More often than not, we stay at home for a low key, quiet Valentines Day and save our date nights out where there aren't big crowds.   The very first tablescabe I ever posted on my blog (or anywhere, for that matter) was our 2010 family Valentines Day table.  I also shared our Valentines Day menu and recipes.   I have to say that looking back at those first ever tablescape photos is a little more than embarrassing (hence the reason there is no link to it! lol). 

A few nights ago we were catching up on 'This Is Us' and Ashton asked Shawn and me about Valentines Day ideas for her boyfriend.  Shawn suggested she cook him a romantic dinner and of course then wound up offering to do most of it for her.  (Have I mentioned she is spoiled by her Dad...and she knows it?)  I then offered to set a romantic table for them  (I might spoil her a little too) because it will be there one year 'dating anniversary' so we are happy to help make it special.  We'll probably get everything ready and then let them have the dining room for dinner and tv room to watch movies after dinner and Shawn and I will most likely vamoose back to our bedroom where we'll have dinner and watch some movies back there.

Today, I'm sharing a tablescape from 2016 that I never got around to publishing at the time.  It turned out really pretty though so I think I'll use some of these same pieces and elements to set the Valentines table for Ashton and Hunter.

In this setting, I used French, English and German transferware.  The predominantly pink/red plates at the bottom are English.  The lovely plates on top are French.  They have birds and roses...two things that go hand in hand with romantic gestures in my mind.  The transferware napkin rings are German.  I know...German...not quite the language of love but these lovelies have a floral motif' and are perfect in this setting!   
Actually I used two napkin rings, one set of cloth in a floral toile which are under the transferware ones and show on either side.  I used these gorgeous Irish damask napkins with crochet lace edges and tucked a fresh rose bud under the rings.

Toile is almost always romantic so I laid out a long piece of left over fabric in lieu of a tablecloth from some custom drapes I had made in my 2nd home about 20 years ago.  Toile never goes out of style either!

I filled one of my favorite pitchers, a circa 1830-35 two color transferware pitcher, and antique, tarnished silver sugar bowls and creamers with fresh roses in creamy white and ivory colors with soft pink tinges.

The stemware is my favorite Waterford Clarendon wine hocks and the iced tea glasses are a vintage set I picked up at a yard sale for next to nothing and probably dating to the 1960-70 era. I love all the gold on them.  I scattered red glass tealights around the table because you just have to have candles for a romantic dinner table!

I make homemade croutons which everyone raves about and that year I made great big ones in the shapes of hearts.  These can be made a day or two ahead so if you have a salad on your dinner list and want to make them extra special try these.  If you want them extra, extra special...make them into a shape that goes with whatever holiday or theme you're celebrating!   They will be a hit!
Wishing each of you the truest of LOVE in your lives and a Happy Valentines Day!


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Turkey Transferware Mix~n~Match Thanksgiving Tablescape

We will be having Thanksgiving dinner at my brother in law's house this year but I decided to set a table at home for a meal and mix it all up with a different turkey plate at each setting. 
 I laid out a plaid blanket over the table in lieu of a tablecloth.
Our dining table is narrow so a centerpiece can sometimes be challenging.  I created this with things from around the house; bark tree shaped candles, two floral sprays, a bundle of wheat, pheasant feathers, silk roses, twigs and pinecones we gathered on one of our trips.  It was kept pretty simple and neutrally colored because the plates and blanket are so colorful and I didn't want it to be too much.

I mixed new and old flatware; vintage bakelite stag horn handled steak knives and new Cambridge with deer on each of the handles.

I'm off to make my corn and onion casserole and some pies for Thanksgiving Day.

I hope you have a blessed day with your families and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Smorgasbord of Transferware Turkey Plates and Platters to Feast Upon!

This morning I pulled several armfuls of turkey platters and plates from my collection (my back does not thank me for this effort) and  laid them out amongst the fallen leaves in the front yard.  I got some interesting looks from passers by as I was as high up on the ladder as I could go without feeling too much like if I fell I might, quite simply put, be over.  But I wanted to get as many of these pieces into one shot as I could just to share and show their diversity.  I like seeing a collection amassed together...it makes such an impact!   Looking at them like this makes me want to collect a myriad of turkey plates and have a smorgasbord of them, and food too of course, for our Thanksgiving table.  

Turkey transferware went into production by English potters around 1870, just 7 years after Abraham Lincoln declared the 3rd Thursday of every November to be the official day of Thanksgiving in 1863.  You can read more about the history of turkey transferware HERE.

All of the turkey plates and platters shown above (and many more) are available in my shop, HERE, and are all 20% off with the code TURKEY.  I will be shipping through the end of the week so they arrive in time for Thanksgiving!

This humogous platter dates to just after 1900 and is by Royal Doulton in the Holly and Turkey pattern.  It's one of the harder ones to find, both in this pattern and color but especially in this Well & Tree form.  This was part of my personal collection for years.  It is for sale HERE

This pretty plate is by Wedgwood with the Woodland border.  Available HERE

Here is a seldom seen teal colored turkey plate by Ridgway dating between 1891-1920  Available HERE

Every year I get a few requests from my customers for a Purple turkey platter or plates.  This one is by Royal Staffordshire and  is one of my favorites.  I love the big turkey strutting his stuff but the haycock propped up behind him and the fall foliage that makes up the border.  It comes in not only the purple, but also brown, blue, red, brown and black and brown polychrome.  
Several of these variations can be found in my shop, HERE

Another beauty with an equally beautiful shape is this circa 1930 platter by Crown Ducal, available HERE

I see this one once or twice a year and usually snag it up when I can.  My Mother in law has this circa 1900 Royal Cauldon platter in blue as well.  I have one in brown.  I currently have one of each color in my shop as well.  I love the border on this one too!

This stunner is by Wedgwood, dating to 1903, with hand enameling.  Available HERE

And of course, the ever popular Vista pattern by Masons was produced with turkeys on the face of the plates for special occasions. Available HERE

This colorfully bordered plate is one I'd like to pair with some aubergine accent colors.  I love the vivid colors on this one.
Available HERE

I don't know about you, but it is hard for me to choose a favorite.  I like them all!  Do you have any turkey plates or platters?  Which are your favorites?

I'm joining in at:

Friday, October 27, 2017






Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mother's Day SALE! 15% off all Transferware!

Save 15% Storewide

Now through Monday, May 15th 2017

Use Code MOM2017 at checkout

Nancy's Daily Dish


Of all the special joys in life,

The big ones and the small,
A Mother's love and tenderness,
Is the greatest of them all


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Monica's Herb De Provence Vegetable Beef Stew

Today's post was actually yesterday's post until I mentioned that my sister-n-law shared her recipe with me back in January at which point a profusion of thoughts and memories of events surrounding that month suddenly whirled around my brain and flowed out onto the paper, or technically speaking,  the monitor.  I felt I should write about them instead as I'd recently taken a 5 month or so hiatus from blogging. So,  I nixed the stew.    I did promise to share it today though, so here it is!

I took the liberty of naming it "Monica's Herbs De Provence Vegetable Beef Stew" for and after my sister-n-law who made it for some of my kids and hers one night in January when we'd gone over for a visit.   She was busy chopping up all these veggies, throwing them into a big stock pot of yumminess and when I asked about it she just said she chops a bunch of this, a handful or two of that, a can of that, some of this, etc. etc.  That's my kind of cooking but of course it can be difficult to tell someone else how it's made.  I do believe I've got it down though and it will be easy for you to make yourself.  I've made it three times since January including day before yesterday.   It's been referred to as the bomb diggity every time. 

 Ultimately, I would say this is more of a wonderful stew for cold, damp Fall and Winter nights, but we've had much cooler than usual temperatures here in OK so it's been great to have on chilly, rainy evenings.   I've made it twice in the past few weeks.

This is chock full of veggies and if you want to omit the beef then you've got a 100% Vegan stew...maybe throw in some beans for protein.  My son, Ethan, is dating a girl who's a strict Vegan and we're hoping to have a big Vegan meal one night.  I will make this for Gloria.  I think she'll love it as much as we do.  In fact, my kids and Shawn all say they'd love it without the meat as well...and we're pretty carnivorous around here so that's a big deal at our house.

Now, my daughter, Kalyn, is turning into quite the cook herself and she has made this stew for her boyfriend's family on at least two occasions that I know of.  The first time she was going to make it she called me from the grocery store and and asked what the spice was that Aunt Monica put in her stew.  I told her it was Herbs De Provence or something like that (I couldn't myself remember exactly the name of it at the time).  I told Kalyn it was a blend of several spices.  She said, "Oh, ok I see it".  I told her to bring me some and I'll split the bottle with her so I can make it as well.

I asked Kalyn to call me the next day to let me know how it turned out.  Was it as good as Aunt Monica's?  So she calls the next day and tells me it was off.  She wasn't sure what it was but it just had a different flavor.  She said it was good but not great, like what Monica had made.   We went over all the veggies we remembered Monica putting in hers and kind of mentally checked them off the list.   I said something like, "well, I think Monica probably gets the best brand of seasonings, so maybe that was why yours tasted a little off".

Kalyn came over within the next few days and brought me the remainder of her spice she'd used in the stew so that I could make it and see how it turned out.   She gave me the bottle of spices and I said, "Oh, I'm pretty sure I know what happened with your stew, KK".  
Here's what she gave me!  Whoopsie daisy! 

I couldn't help but to laugh out loud.  This is a Roberts' classic mistake.  My husband, Shawn, still gets teased to this day about using salt in place of sugar in a cookie recipe when he was a kid.  He had so much pride that he ate every single cookie and acted like they tasted good.  Oh, I am laughing out loud thinking about it because I can just see him doing that! 

So I know that we are all on the same page here,  let's go over what Herbs De Provence contains.  Herbs De Provence is a blend of Lavender, Marjoram, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Fennel, Parsley and Fennel.   Here is the bottle I bought, at Walmart.  No fancy brand, just the organic version.

And now, without further adieu, I share with you

Monica's Herbs De Provence Vegetable Beef Stew

Olive Oil
1 1/2 - 2 TBLSP Herbs De Provence
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1-2 lbs stew meat (leave it out if you want to do Vegan)
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
2-3 14-15 oz cans Vegetable stock or broth (I used both) (use 3 cans for a soupier consistency, 2 for a thicker consistency...I've made it both ways and taste is the same) 
2-3 medium sweet potatoes,  peeled and cut into bite size pieces
3-4 red or russett potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 bag carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 lb mushrooms, rinsed and cut into pieces
1 red bell pepper (or yellow or orange...I always make a big batch so I use 1 red and 1 orange or yellow), seeded and cut into pieces
1 medium to large yellow onion, chopped
2 or so big handfuls of kale, chopped

Drizzle some olive oil in a stock pot and heat.  Dredge your stew meat in flour with a little salt and pepper.  Throw it in the pot with olive oil and let it brown.
As the beef begins to brown, toss in the onions.  Cook for 5 or so minutes and throw in the carrots.  I like to add these first as they take longer to tenderize but in all honesty,  I don't think it matters all that much! You can probably just throw it all in and ''fahget about it''...just don't let your stew scorch!    Next add the broth and remaining vegetables and bring to a boil and allow to boil until potatoes are close to tender.  Add a little more salt and pepper, the crushed tomatoes and the Herbs De Provence, not All Spice.

Your pot will be boasting with color and a wonderful smell will waft through your kitchen and home as this stews.  You'll want to turn the heat down and simmer for an hour or so until the meat is completely tender...fall apart in your mouth tender.  I noticed Monica boiled her soup so I actually did that to.  Everything cooks down and marries beautifully.  

 The kale will turn very dark green and the mushrooms almost disappear as they cook, but it all blends harmoniously.

I've served it with several breads including a crusty French baguette, roasted garlic Ciabatta, sourdough and garlic butter on herb bread.  They are all fabulous but I think my favorite are the garlic breads.  If you're in the Tulsa area and have Reasor's they've got some nice artisanal breads, one of which is 'Roasted Garlic Ciabatta' and it's out of this world good!  It compliments the flavors so well.  Plus, Trevor is a supervisor there as he's working his way through college.

Here are couple of alternative suggestions for the stew.  I'm sure you will come up with some of your own as well.  Please post a comment if you do as I'd love to know how you make it your own and share your take on other versions!

1) The first times I made this I made it more soupier than these photos show.  This time (in the picture below and first on this post) I used more veggies and meat which made it thick.  
2)We've decided in our house that we will mix this up by serving it over some kind of pasta (maybe Penne) with a sprinkling of fresh Parmesan on top.  
3) Monica told me that she has used Beef broth in lieu of the Vegetable broth so that's something to consider if you want a beefier flavor.  I'm sure it's wonderful.
4) I think it would probably be good with chicken vs. beef
5) Substitute lentils for the meat and you've got a Vegan meal

Give it a try!  I know you'll love it!


All of the blue transferware I used to shoot the stew is available for sale in my shop or click each photo to be taken to the link.

joining: The Scoop