Friday, July 23, 2010

A Refreshing Take on Chicken Salad and one of my Poems

Here is a yummy Chicken Salad with a twist, so perfect for these hot summer days we're experiencing.   I used to make this years ago.  Do you ever have something you make a lot and then forget about it?  That's just what I did.   I made it again a few nights ago after re-discovering the recipe and everyone loved it.  Ashton asked if I'd make it again this week. 
What makes it unique is that it's got a dressing made with Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix  and the addition of pineapple.

Super fast and super easy to prepare.

I made a little extra dressing and we served it over mixed greens with some crusty cheese bread.  It was light and refreshing and still hearty enough for a dinner meal.
Food always looks so good on blue transferware!

Pineapple Ranch Chicken Salad
(from a Hidden Valley Ranch brochure)

2 cups cooked, cubed chicken
1 cup sliced celery
1 20 oz. can pineapple chunks***
Separately combine 1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing / Dip mix with 1/2 cup mayonnaise and 1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice.  ( I double this when serving over greens)

Add dressing to chicken, celery and pineapple mixture and toss to coat.

*** I mixed in fresh pineapple and if you have it to use instead of canned, let me tell you honey, there is NO comparison.  Next time I make this I will just buy a little can of pineapple juice and use fresh pineapple.  I think some toasted pecans might be good with this too.

So there it is...fresh, fast, easy as can be and most importantly, quite tasty!

So, you may be wondering what do Chicken Salad and my poem have to do with each other?  I'll tell you, absolutely not one thing.  I keep thinking I will start a separate blog for my poetry but each time I go to set one up the names I come up with are taken....arggh.  I've compiled enough poetry for a book which I intend/ed to call "A Poem for your Thoughts".    "That's the name I'll choose for my  poetry blog", I thought.   I thought wrong.  Somebody else had the nerve to use that name. Can you believe it? ;-)  So, I hope you all will indulge me and let me post some of my poems here and there, for no reason other than being random.  Hey Gay, how's this for Hodge Podge?

Hope you all stay cool this weekend!

A verbal composition characterized by the use of condensed language chosen for its sound and suggestive power.
American Heritage Dictionary

~by me, Nancy Roberts~

Poetry, I believe meant to be
through language, an inner stirring
A means to conjure memories;
A step back to their occurring

Poetry, I believe meant to be
with what time it takes to write
a means by which I slip away-
An invitation to minds flight

Poetry, I believe meant to be
through usage of my words
a way for me to speak to you,
Thus never really being heard

Poetry, I believe meant to be
with pen and paper on hand
a means to share through writing-
Just who it is I really am

Poetry, I believe meant to be
through its readers eyes
a chance to understand and see
its author without disguise

Poetry, I believe meant to be
when given, it is of myself
a way to find a part of me
placed upon my minds back shelf

Poetry, I believe meant to be
through imaginative allusion
the means to take me to a place-
where I am drawn to this conclusion:

Poetry, I believe, meant to be.

Linking to:

Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Publish Post

Finer Things Friday
Ultimate Recipe Swaps, hosted by Life as Mom
Food On Fridays, hosted by Ann Kroeker
Tasty Tuesday, hosted by Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
Tatertots & Jello 
Harrigan Howdy 
Summer Sundays at The Tablescaper
Hodge Podge Friday at It's a Hodgepodge Life
A Few of My Favorite Things at Bargain Hunting with Laurie

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Toile de Jouy and Transferware ~ A Black & White Tablescape

Toile de Jouy pronounced twal duh zhwee derives its name from the fabric that was first manufactured at the Oberkampf factory in Jouy-en-Josas, a village located SW of Paris. The factory became famous for its monochromatic toiles (meaning canvas or cloth) which were printed in red, blue, or black, on a white or cream background. 

At first, the Oberkampf factory produced only floral designs block printed with wood blocks. In all, more than thirty thousand block print designs were utilized to print fabric there. 
In 1752, Francis Nixon, of Dublin, Ireland, designed an improved way to print fabric. He discovered that engraved copper plates and a cylinder system could transfer designs to cloth. This required less manpower than wood block printing, and was more cost effective. An added benefit of copperplate printing is that the design area repeat could span up to as much as a yard, whereas wood blocks were only 10" wide.

Oberkampf, wanting to stay abreast of new technology, eventually obtained a Swiss machine capable of printing fabric using copper engravings. Drawings produced from copper were more precise and detailed than those produced from carved wood.  One story tells that while in England, Oberkampf discovered the secrets of etching designs onto a copper-plate roller.  He and his brothers secretly copied directions for this process on cotton percale fabric, using an alum solution tinted with red dye, and then dipped the fabric in vinegar to render the writing invisible until after they crossed the Channel.  Another story tells that Oberkampf sent some of his key workers abroad to learn new technologies.  One of his employees brought back from Switzerland a machine able to print fabric using copper sheets.  Whether the first or second story is true, it remains indisputable that Oberkampf significantly expanded the market for toile, and himself became famous.

Later, idyllic scenes featuring the French countryside were predominant. Many of these pastoral motifs showed people at work and at leisure. Hunting scenes, which depicted a favorite pastime of the well-to-do, were also favorites.   

An interesting toile, Les Traveaux de la Manufacture (The Activities of the Factory), 1783–84, designed by Jean-Baptiste Huet depicting 14 different scenes of the copperplate printing process

And here, a room using this pattern on the walls:

French royalty were among Oberkampf's strongest supporters.  The fabric had great appeal to the upper classes who enjoyed it for home decorating.  Amongst these upper class-men, Benjamin Franklin was visiting England when he first became aware of toile. He promptly purchased some to bring home to his wife.  Of course, being an inventor, Franklin was quite interested in the new copperplate printing process.  This has me wondering about a letter he wrote regarding the transferware printing process  and its development.  Had he toyed with the idea to print on ceramics using copper plates after learning about the toile printing process?  You can read that post HERE (very interesting!)  After all, it was in 1751 when John Brooks, an Irish engraver who obtained the first patent for the transfer printing process, and 1752 when Francis Nixon, also Irish, discovered it could be used for textile printing.  Independently, in England it was John Sadler and Guy Green who  invented,   developed and perfected the technique of transfer printing on ceramics in 1756.  Perhaps Franklin learned of the copperplate process and thought about its application to ceramics before it was made so famous in England?  He was a printer by trade so his curiosity in various printing processes would be natural.   Hmmm...I love connecting these historical dots, or maybe just imagining connections.  Fun to ponder either way.

Ok, on to why we're here tonight...Tablescape time.  In honor of classic French toiles, French manors (posted yesterday) and of course my favorite thing: transferware,  tonight I've set a table with pastoral black on cream toile and black transferware depicting a French Country Manor house.

  My tablecloth is actually two drapery panels which I've overlapped. 
I then used vintage French scrolled iron hangers (not sure what these were originally but I have normally hang them as toppers over pictures in my family room) laid flat and topped with a scrunched up valance. 

The fabric which makes the valance and placemats is Waverly's Country Life.  The valance is darling and comes with checked or striped tie ups.  You can buy one from Custom*Cottage*Creations for about $20!  This shop owner does custom valances, table-runners, place mats, napkins and napkin rings.

For my centerpiece I chose to lay a white alium wreath  flat on a fish bowl stand and placed two French garden statues of children holding their rabbits in the center.

Do you notice a little something here?

Somebunny wants to get in on the snuggle love.  This is one of those little flower pot hangers. 
 The placemats match the valance and are custom made by Carol at Custom*Cottage*Creations.  She's currently got some of these on auction.  I like the oval shape and even more, I like that these are so versatile with their ticking striped backs.  You can use either side, but I chose the toile in keeping with my French pastoral theme.  Carol takes custom orders and you can email her directly at or contact her through her ebay store.  Her email is: 
The embossed border black transferware depicts a French country manor home. 

I used two flatware patterns, one is my standard Towle and the ivory forks are Hampton. 

Can you believe these napkin rings are only $3.99 for a set of eight?  That's right.  Carol has several different patterns, toiles, florals and gingham's as well as different color variations.  I think all of us table-scapers need several sets of these! 
Oh, she made the ticking striped napkins to...I only have two of them and used them at the host and hostess seats.

At the host and hostess settings I used the striped napkins and striped valance tie ups running vertically over the place mats.

I thought these vintage Tiara tumblers looked great with this setting.  They are black glass and I found a set in its original box.  My kids all commented on how much they liked them.  They are pretty cool.  The clear goblets are some that the kids and I etched  at Grandma Judy's annual Christmas party.  She has all the Grand kids over for a day of cookie baking and decorating and lots of crafts.  It's always so much fun and I'm sure will be wonderful memories for all the kiddos.  She bought glasses for each family member and then we all etched our initials and/or designs onto them.  The etching is so subtle that I couldn't get a good shot of it.

I tied the host and hostess glasses with a piece of vintage black French lace...just kidding about it being vintage and French.  I cut it off one of Ashton's shirts that no longer fits her. ;-)

Other French inspired elements finish out my table:
Hand stamped candles with a French sentiment and music notes.

I tied a handstamped rosette with a Paris ribbon around the candle base.

Vintage bull planters filled with white roses

A circa 1880 Aesthetic transferware vase by Ridgway topped with a ball of creamy white roses.

Boy and girl at the well figurine
And, muslin bags hand stamped with the Eiffel Tower hold after dinner mints.  These are for sale at A Little Scrappy.
The table at night with candles lit.
The seat covers are actually pillow covers with a gingham check on the back...also from Custom*Cottage*Creations.

Linking to these magical places:

Vintage Black Friday at The French Cupboard
Centerpiece Wednesday at Style Sisters
Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday
Jenny Matlock for Alphababe Thursday
Toot Your Horn Tuesdays 
Vintage Thingie Thursday at Colorado Lady
Hodge Podge Friday @ It's a Hodgepodge Life
Thrifty Thursday at Tales from Bloggeritaville
Frugalicious Fridays
Feature Yourself Friday
Frugal Friday
Trendy Treehouse Blog hop
Tatertots & Jello
Show Off Your Cottage Monday
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
A Few of My Favorite Things at Bargain Hunting with Laurie 
White Wednesday @ Faded Charm
Home is Where my Story Begins 
The Blackberry Vine for Pretty Packages Party
Charm Bracelet Diva

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

French Manor Houses

Preparing for my tablescape tomorrow night, which features a transferware pattern depicting a French Manor I did a bit of research and came across some beautiful French Chateau's and Manor's. 

In France, the terms chateau or manoir are often used synonymously to describe a French manor-house. 
Although not typically built with strong fortifications as were castles, many manor-houses were partly fortified: they were often enclosed within walls and included various outbuildings.  

  This particular manner was rebuilt in the 18th Century.  The pepperpot towers framing the pediment were added in the 19th Century. 

I love these rooms of the home. In fact, this is kind of my dream interior.  I'd decorate differently and not so sparsely.   I think my needlepoint rugs, traditional Old World furnishings and of course my English transferware would fit right in.  Oh, to dream.

One of the outbuildings on this property is the barn, whose originations have been dated to the 15th Century.  Don't you love those arched doors?  I'd be happy just to have the barn to renovate into a home.  An old church would suit me fine to.  My Mom went to high school and college with a man who bought a barn and renovated it into his home.  Everyone thought this to be strange since it was not common 35-40 some odd years ago to move into a barn or church.  You may have heard of him, his name is Charles Faudree.

This Manor is in need of restoration, oh but what potential it offers. It origins date to the 16th Century.

The property is enclosed by a large stone wall and the house can be seen through the gate.
Close up of the front door.  Charming.
Now you cannot say you've never seen a clothes line strung across a living room.
I love the beams, wood ceiling and the stucco walls.
Would this room not be beautiful fully restored to its original state and used as a study or den?

Another room in this house I'd love to get my hands on...
I hope noone really sleeps here.

 I like the beams here to.

 Another lovely Manor Home
Look at the mossy steps leading to the front door.
A side view

 The back of the house...see the lanterns hanging in the tree?  

More lovely, French facades

  I love the roof!

All of the properties above are in France, and they are all for sale. 

A French poets poem...

The Old Village 

~ by Frances Jammes~


The old village was with roses filled,
And I went wandering in the heat of the day,
And, after, o'er the sleeping leaves that chilled
The feet that walked among them where they lay.


And then along a worn-out wall, the belt
Of a wide park whence came a gentle breeze,
And there an odour of the past I smelt
In the white roses and the mighty trees.  


Now uninhabited by anyone ...
They used to read here when this grass was cropped ...
And now, as though the rain had but just stopped,
The ebon-trees shine under the raw sun.


The children of old time went, linking hands,
In the park's shade, and romped around these roots ...
Playing about red plants with dangerous fruits
That had been brought from very distant lands.


Their parents, pointing out the shrubs that thrived
In the rich soil, would say to them: Take care!
There's poison here ... from India this arrived ...
And that is belladona over there.


They said besides: This tree here by the wall,
Your uncle brought it with him from Japan ...
Then it was very delicate and small,
With leaves as big as the finger-nails of a man.


They said besides: We can remember yet
The day he came back from the ends of the earth;
He galloped through the village in a sweat,
With pistols sticking in his saddle-girth.


One summer eve. The girls ran to and fro
In the park's shadow round the great tree-stems,
Round the black walnuts where white roses grow,
And laughter underneath the black yoke-elms.


They shouted: "It is uncle!" seeing him,
And he, dismounting from his great horse stood
In his great coat and hat with the broad brim ...
His mother wept: My son ... O God is good ...


We've weathered many and many a storm, he said ...
We ran short of fresh water for a week.
And his old mother kissed him on the cheek,
Saying through tears: My son you are not dead ...


But where is now this family? Are these
But dreams of things that never have existed?
Now there are only shining leaves on trees
That might be poisoned, they are all so twisted.


Now in the great heat all is hushed and still ...
And the black walnuts' shadow is so chill ...
Now uninhabited by anyone ...
The ebon-trees shine under the raw sun.