Thursday, March 25, 2010

Potato & Pork Sausage Chowder

My family has a touch of carnivore in our genes and we love this traditional homemade potato soup with added crumbled pork sausage to satisfy our meat cravings!  It's easy to prepare and quite hearty, great with a salad, roll or served alone.  This soup is delicious without the sausage too. 

Potato & Pork Sausage Chowder

4 cups peeled, cubed potatoes
1 cup celery, sliced
1 c. onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups water
2 tsp. salt or to taste
1 cup half and half
1 cup whipping cream
4 tablespoons butter
1 tbsp dried parsley (optional)
1/2-1 tsp caraway seeds (to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
16 oz. pork sausage cooked and crumbled

Combine potatoes, celery, onion, water and salt in large pan. Simmer about 20 minutes until potatoes are tender. While potatoes are cooking, cook, crumble and drain sausage. Set aside. Mash soup mixture several times, leaving some pieces whole. I have added left over mashed potatoes to make this even thicker and heartier and then not mashed the cubed potatoes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Continue cooking until thoroughly heated.

* I've made a low-calorie version of this as well by substituting butter flavor sprinkles for the butter, skim milk for the half and half and low-fat cream cheese for the whipping cream.  I heat the cream cheese a little so it's soft and blends into the liquid.  This helps thicken it up. 

I served this in one of my all time favorite transferware patterns, Byron by Spode. I'll be doing a tablescape with this soon and Ican't wait to share this pattern and the history of it with you.

Linking up with Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Foodie Friday, Tasty TuesdayFiner Things Friday, and Ultimate Recipe Swap 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

'Dressing' the Table

Welcome to another Tablescape! 

I chose to mix olive green and blue this week. I have been toying with the idea of using these colors together for a tablescape and when I saw Sherry's dining room at No Minimalist Here there was no question I would like this color combination.  After seeing Sherry's use of blue transferware on her green walls I was even more inspired to do this tablescape.  

I like layering things so I first used this light blue and olive heavy chenille throw I found at Goodwill for a couple of dollars. 

I don't know about you, but when I feel my table needs a little additional texture, dimension or color I turn to my closet!  That's right, my closet.  I didn't name this post "dressing the table" without a just cause.  I used two dresses in this tablescape!

I really do not like the blue one at all (at least not on me).  I bought it only after trying on a few hundred or so (it seemed) and I was running out of time to find something to wear to my Father-in-laws 70th birthday party.   Something that would hide my flab!  I was heavier then than I am now, and even though I'm not at all crazy about this dress it still hangs in my closet.  Now I know why!  I would need it for a future tablescape!  So, I wadded, I scrunched, I stretched...the dress that is.  I then added another dress with a gorgeous 6" lace in a pale olive.  I do like this one but I haven't worn it in a looong time...just can't let go of it with all that gorgeous lace!  It even has a purse that matches!  I sort of wadded the dress up onto the table and pulled the long lace out making a circular shape.
Atop the dresses I used a large, 1800's light blue transferware plate by T J & J Mayer in the Garden Scenery pattern to weigh down the the pouf-iness of the dresses and stabilize an arrangement for the top.  I love the soft blues in the transferware pieces I've used here.

Next I took the bottom half of a cookie jar and filled it with white roses (yes, silk...someday I'll try to have fresh flowers).

The lace romantically flows....

In keeping with a little bit of a Spring-ish theme I decided to put one of Mr. Hare's brothers amongst the white roses.
 His name is Poor and that's because Poor little rabbit lost his Mrs.  We're not sure if Mr. McGregor got her in his garden or she was lost in the journey from Colorado to Oklahoma but she's been missing for several years now.  Though I've spent many hours searching in earnest for her, Poor and I are still hopeful that she may find her way back home.  He always dresses in his best blue suit anxiously awaiting her return.

I've had these silver beaded chargers for a long time but rarely have used them.  I thought they'd bring a bit of light to the table.

I added an olive green transferware plate by J & G Meakin (BUY HERE).  I love the border on this pattern with tiny flowers and berries.

I added these Circa 1891 salad plates by Ridgway in the Oriental pattern.  This pattern was originally produced around 1830.  This plate has beautiful, varying cartouches of flowers and oriental scenery around the border. (BUY HERE)

I found these little green bowls/dessert cups also at a thrift store for a quarter a piece.  I put one on each of the blue Oriental plates.

Again wanting to add a little more 'light' to the table I added these vintage, lace trimmed white napkins.  These were my Mom's.  She was always hosting gorgeous dinners and parties and I remember her using these on several of those occasions.  My flatware is Towle...and...uh...hmmm....I can't remember the pattern name!  It may be Stockholm....yes, I think that's the name of it.

The blue stemmed glasses, I believe are Avon.

These salt and pepper shakers match the cookie jar (minus the lid).  These are Tar-zhay (Target) from way back when...well, along time ago.

Lastly, I added a touch of candle light with these vintage inspired Hobby Lobby glass candle holders.

I enjoyed putting this tablescape together and hope you do to.  I really like the colors combined.  Enjoy!

Ok, I'm not messing around when it comes to linking up this week!  I'm linking to the following so please check out these lovely blogs for tablescapes, thrifty treasures, multiples of three or more, lovely white things and vintage finds:

A Poem For Your Thoughts:

The Evidence

In every seed to breathe the flower,
In every drop of dew
To reverence a cloistered star
Within the distant blue;
To wait the promise of the bow
Despite the cloud between,
Is Faith-the fervid evidence
Of loveliness unseen.

~John B. Tabb

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Aesthetic Movement and Transferware

What is the Aesthetic Movement?

The Aesthetic Movement refers to a period of time in the late 19th century (1870-1900) which was a backlash to the formal Victorian years. 

Artists and writers of the Aesthetic movement period maintained the belief that art should provide refined sensuous pleasure, rather than convey moral or sentimental messages.  They believed that art did not have any didactic purpose; it need only be beautiful. 

Japanese art had a great influence on Aestheticism. Aesthetic interiors were often decorated with Japanese prints, screens, fans and other objects. An appreciation of the art of Japan is seen in the work of many Aesthetic artists and designers such as James McNeill Whistler and E.W. Godwin.

photo credit Country Living

The Aesthetes developed the cult of beauty, which they considered the basic factor in art. They ascertained that life should copy art and considered nature as crude and lacking in design in comparison. The main characteristics of the movement were: suggestion rather than statement, sensuality, massive use of symbols, and effects of correspondence between words, colors and music.

Aesthetic movement pieces which range from furniture to pottery are characterized by several common themes:
  • Ebonized wood with gilt highlights
  • Japanese influence
  • Prominent use of nature, especially flowers, birds, ginko leaves, and peacock feathers.
  • Earthenware, porcelain and china.
  • Literature

The Aesthetic Movement  influenced transferware designs of Asian styled scenes with asymmetric, bold and geometric patterns.  Oftentimes the Aesthetic Movement pieces will have a scene inset on the piece like this very large, unmarked, Circa 1880's platter.  Note the two borders of differing geometric patterns, three circular insets each having geometric patterns and the semi-circular arch containing butterflies and bamboo.  To the left is the inset scene of a windmill.  This piece has a hand painted border of aqua around the edge and each circle has color.

Brown is probably the most common color found in Aesthetic pieces though blue, green, red/pink, black and purple may also be found in these styles.  Some are hand painted in areas (hand enameled, clobbered or hand painted/polychrome) over the transfer, adding color.

 Two years ago, Country Living Magazine named Aesthetic Transferware as one of the top collectibles.  

Part of my collection is this 1880's figural pitcher by Ridgway in a pattern called Vistas.  It has an unusual, Asian styled dragon handle and is decorated with scenic insets onto the botanical background of bamboo and sunflowers.

 Sunflowers were the most popular Aesthetic motif.  With its bold colour and simple flat shape the flower had great appeal for Aesthetes.
Below is a stunning clock in blue and white with a sunflower motif'

This is a Sunflower themed platter in the Marlborough pattern by D B & Co (Dunn & Bennett)with a registration date of Feb 12, 1883.  I sold this piece about a year ago.  I think it's just beautiful! Don't you?

Here is a stunning, hand carved table representing furniture of both the Aesthetic and Victorian times with a Sunflower motif.  Note the incredible carved legs, skirt and ball and claw feet.

I put this Aesthetic set in brown and white together (Purchase HERE)

Female followers of the Aesthetic Movement dressed in distinctive loose, flowing garments in subtle colours, which were modelled on medieval styles. Fashionable men favoured velvet suits with knee breeches.

The poet and writer Oscar Wilde was the leading personality of the Aesthetic Movement. He promoted the philosophy of 'art for art's sake' in a series of lectures in America and Britain. Wilde was a famous dandy and wit. He is best known for plays such as Lady Windermere's Fan, The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was later turned into a novel. In 1895, at the height of his success, Wilde was tried and imprisoned for homosexuality. With his downfall the Aesthetic Movement lost its popularity.
Oscar Wilde in knee breeches 
 photo credit: National Portrait  Gallery, London


The peacock feather, previously thought to be a symbol of bad luck, became an icon of the Aesthetic style. Its use as a motif confirmed Aestheticism's reputation for decadence.
A large blue and white charger with a Peacock motif

Two different Peacock plates by Spode
The Peacock Room (below) was designed in 1876 -1877 for the London home of F.R. Leyland. Architect and designer Thomas Jeckyll adapted a dining room in the house to accommodate Leyland's collection of blue and white porcelain and a painting by James McNeill Whistler.  Whistler was an American-born artist and an important figure in the Aesthetic movement. In his paintings Whistler aimed to express mood and atmosphere through simple shapes, fluid brushstrokes and subtle colors. Whistler and his fellow Aesthetes believed that art was an end in itself, with no wider moral or social implications.

Whistler felt that the décor of Leyland's room did not suit his painting and without his patron's knowledge he painted the entire room deep blue and gold and covered the window shutters and one of the walls with huge, glorious peacocks.
The Peacock Room, photo courtesy of the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian  Institution, Washington

I recently acquired this huge red/pink wash pitcher (wish I had the basin as well).  I've placed it next to a decanter to give you an idea of how big it is.  I just love this piece!  It has a thin branch with acorns and oak leaves with the branch extending down and framing the pastoral scene below.  The handle has a geometric design.  This was made by J F Wileman of Staffordshire and the pattern is entitled Lake Scenery.

This handled cake platter by Grindley in the Daffodil pattern hangs in the powder bath of my home along with some other brown and white plates and platters.

Here is a pretty blue piece called Warwick by J Dimmock & Co circa 1880 (PURCHASE HERE)
My Aesthetic green platter that hangs in the Master Bath, in the Richmond pattern, circa 1880's

Here are some other Aesthetic Movement pieces.  Some are for sale (you click the link above each if interested).  These will help concrete your idea of what the Aesthetic pieces look like.

Japanesque Vase (PURCHASE HERE)

A colorful grouping of plates and a matching platter depicting flowers, water fowl, birds and Asian influenced floral designs with geometric borders.
The Aesthetic style favored strong, simple colors. Bright blues, greens and especially yellows were very popular. Such colors were used in domestic interiors, often in combination with black furniture. Black was also a dominant color of Aesthetic-style graphic arts.

Below is an olive/loden green platter by Furnivals, dating between 1891-95 (PURCHASE HERE and read more information)

A beautiful brown, 17"  platter by T. Elsmore & Son of Tunstall England.  The registration mark dates to May 14, 1878 (PURCHASE HERE...there are three sizes available)

 A rare and lovely, tab handled, hand clobbered compote by Spode.  Available HERE

Another piece by Grindley in the pattern entitled Spring, 1886 (PURCHASE HERE) In the background is a platter entitled Beatrice.

This piece sold a few months back.  It is by Doulton's and the pattern is called Oxford.  It's a desirable piece in a rich, chocolate brown.

Spode Primrose Plate in Red

A Wedgwood butter pat in the Edinburg pattern

Handled butter tray

An unusual dipping bowl with a dragonfly motif in blue
I've linked up to Toot Your Horn Tuesday, RED-nesday, Show and Tell Friday and Market Yourself Monday