In Love with Winter Squash

It was a dismal year for tomatoes in the garden. But where tomatoes failed, winter squash thrived! Behold, the harvest! (Well, not counting the four I pitched due to some burrowing insect, and the one upon which a mole feasted. Cheeky fellow!)

My excitement over winter squash reaches almost childhood-Christmas levels! In fact, they are a lot like presents. First, they appear in the something tempting in a store window. And you stroll past them for months while your admiration and enthusiasm only grow. And each time you pass, you delight in how wonderful they will be when they are opened (and cooked). 

And then the day finally arrives when they can be purchasing that long-awaited present! So much fun! And you bring them home and stash them in some secure and safe place in the house...peeking at them every once in a while...just to check on them and admire them anew. And then, like Christmas day, you bring one out in the heart of winter and roast it up in the oven...filling the house with its aroma of buttery and cinnamon-coated goodness...and present it to your family to "yums" and "ahhhs" and your squash-loving heart is just filled to the brim!

And if all that wasn't enough...just look at their form. I love the way they pose so elegantly for pictures. 

Autumn's Country

-from our drive last week-

Autumn's Country

This is Autumn's country
We are driving through--
Stubble fields, pale golden;
Sky, wild-aster blue.

Goldenrod and rose haws
By the dusty road;
Water trickling wanly
Where spring freshets flowed.

Smoke from hillside clearings,
Tantalizing hints
Of orchard spices--apple,
Nut and peach and quince.

Red leaves on the maples,
Purple-clustered vines--
This is Autumn's country;
These, its certain signs.

-Ethel Romig Fuller

Autumn Dinner Under the Stars

I adore creating happy memories for people! It is a passion of mine! My mind is always swirling with fun memories to make with the people I love. Two memory-makers that I've been contemplating for some time are an old-fashioned harvest party and hoedown AND an elegant autumn dinner under the stars. The first one is quite ambitious, and I haven't worked up to it yet. But last Saturday night, we brought the latter one to life!

The general plan was:

-invite some of Colette's friends and some of ours
-cook over an open fire
-self-serve cocktails
-table setting with real dishes, crystal, vintage flatware, tablecloths
-fresh flowers
-lingering conversation around the dinner table and the firepit 

The day of the party arrived and rain was in the forecast for the entire day until 3:00. Yikes! I tried not to stress out about that, but just forged ahead with preparations. And the weather forecasters were right, as it stopped almost exactly at 3:00, which gave us two hours of prep time before the fire needed to be kindled and another hour before guests arrived. Perfect!

We went to work setting up dinner tables and serving tables, stringing lights, bringing chairs out of the house, setting the table, pulling wool blankets out of our collections and draping them over chairs to ward off the chilly night, and dinner prepping with a careful eye on timing everything right.

For the table service, we used tartan napkins in lively shades of autumn mixed with our classic white dishes and vintage restaurantware appetizer plates. (Vintage restaurantware dishes and ironstone are perfect for outdoor events and picnics, because they're practically indestructible.) Looking through my collection of vintage Bakelite flatware, I chose the butterscotch- and golden-colored pieces for this party. Wine glasses, crystal water glasses, glass water bottles, hurricane lanterns and votive candles, pewter napkin rings, and pewter tankards filled with safflowers completed the look.

Everything was in readiness for our guests to arrive! 

The menu was planned to allow for some aspects to be made ahead of time and others to be cooked over an open fire. *virtually all menu items were gluten-free*

- MENU -

Self-Serve Apple Cider Cocktails

Mushroom, Sundried Tomato, and Mozzarella Dip
(cooked over an open fire) with Garlic Toasts

Garlic and Herb Rubbed Pork Loin
(cooked over an open fire)

Salad of Field Greens with Apples, Pomegranate Seeds, 
Pepitas, and Feta - dressed with vinaigrette 

Whole Grain Rice with Dried Cranberries and Parsley

Cornbread with Butter and Raw Honey

Gourmet S'mores

Some day, when I'm more proficient at the open fire cooking, I'll blog with tips and recipes about the whole process. But I'm really just learning myself still. So for now...quick tips on the easiest parts of the menu.

Self-Serve Apple Cider Cocktails - Set out: 8 oz. glasses, ice bucket with scoop, measure, bottle of bourbon, pitcher of freshly-pressed cider, bottles of San Pellegrino, and the following instructions:

- Fill glass with ice
- One part bourbon
- Two parts cider
- Top with San Pellegrino

Gourmet S'mores - We used to make homemade marshmallows in a variety of flavors when we wanted to step up our s'more game. But now we've discovered that, instead, it's much easier to substitute Ghiradelli chocolate squares for plain Hershey chocolate. For this party, we chose caramel-filled milk chocolate squares and bourbon-caramel filled dark chocolate squares. Yum!

I had as much fun creating the evening as enjoying it as it happened!

Fall Additions

Autumn is finally here! But until today, the weather has been dreadfully hot, so it's been difficult to get into the mood of baking and cozying and all delights of the season. But I've been stocking up on a few essentials.

- Monin Salted Caramel syrup to add to coffee and hot chocolate. I love how a pump of this syrup makes hot chocolate all the more velvety.
- Whole nutmeg for grating atop eggnog and whipped cream on pumpkin pie. I found these in an apothecary jar in The Old Country Store, one of the oldest general stores in the country (since 1781).
-Cinnamon sifter for lightly dusting whipped cream on our hot chocolate. I love the cozy flavor blend of chocolate and cinnamon!
-A new nutcracker, as our old one was broken. This lovely one with olive wood handles is from Crate & Barrel.
-Saddle soap for reconditioning our winter boots and shoes and purses. A little TLC keeps them looking great for years.

Freshening Up with Ironstone

Sometimes, it's just time for a change. For about 20 years, I have been accumulating a collection of red transferware dishes. And after we moved into our home in New England, I painted some built-in cabinets (which are in the kitchen's dining area and flank the doorway to the family room) a fabulous barn red color that really set off the dishes. Sadly, I didn't take a "before" picture of them with the transferware.

Close-up of one of my dishes...a pretty collection of five large bowls.

But once I painted the family room sage green, I didn't like the jarring contrast between the bolder barn red and the gentle green beyond. And eventually, I just yearned for a complete change.

I began by removing all the red transferware and storing it. Then I began to pull any and all white serving pieces out of my cupboards. And things began to take shape. I covered the cabinets with various paint swatches and finally decided on a color somewhere between mud brown and caramel. I love it! So fresh and updated!

Any difference in color between those two photos is simply due to the distance they are from the light coming in the sliding glass doors.

About 50% of the dishes and crockery I already owned. I searched consignment stores, antique shops, and thrift stores for a few pieces to complete the look. So easy! And so easy to do economically! Of the pieces I purchased, very few cost more than $10, with many just $5 or less. I discovered that I'm really drawn to dishes with lids and anything that isn't stark white. And the best part is that now I have a great collection of all-purpose white serving pieces for any meal!

When doing a grouping of ironstone/white dishes, it is more visually interesting if you use a variety of shades of white and even add in a bit of texture, like this summery glass filled with vintage flatware.

Some of my favorite sources for these pieces are:
Thoreauly Antiques in Concord, Massachusetts (love that place!)
Twin Elm Farm in Peterborough, New Hampshire (always find a treasure there!)
Concord Antiques Gallery in Concord, New Hampshire (and a big shout out for the paint advice from the awesome stylist who works there!)
Kohl's line of Fontina dishes, which are my everyday dishes. Some of the serving pieces are displayed here.

Tasha Tudor Day!

In honor of what would've been Tasha Tudor's 102nd birthday, today I am giving away one copy of The Private World of Tasha Tudor. This beautifully photographed book depicts the yesteryear lifestyle of the beloved New England icon who inspired so many of us to embrace the simple joys of, home, garden, seasons. To enter, just leave a comment below and please make sure it links back to your email so I can notify you, if you win! A winner will be chosen at 9 a.m. (EST) on August 29, 2017.

Happy Tasha Tudor Day! Take joy!

Sabbath Rest

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him."

- Daniel 2:20-22

Redcoat Costume

For the first time ever, I've created a Redcoat Costume for the shop! Perfect for the Loyalist in your family! Click here to visit it in the shop!

Lake Time

The weather was glorious, summer is waning, and Colette had the day off work. All that meant that it was a fabulous opportunity to head to a lake for some fun!

Decisions, decisions. Canoe? Double kayak? Single kayak? Paddleboard? In the end, I took a single kayak, because it enabled us to bring along a backpack with a phone for picture taking. Plus, it's super relaxing!

And Colette chose a paddleboard, which she'd done once before and loved.

We headed out to a small, uninhabited island and, like any self-respecting 8-year olds, we claimed it for our own. We clambered out on the rocky shore, tied up the kayak and paddleboard, climbed up a big rock, and did this!

We both agreed that we were fulfilling our childhood dreams!

The House Smells Like Summer

I spent some of my day making double batches of Ina Garten's Roasted Tomato Basil Soup (click here for the recipe). I gathered in tomatoes from the garden that were still wet from last night's rain. Then they were all roasted until the whole house smelled of summer! When everything was finished, into the freezer they went! Come snowy, winter days, I am going to be so glad I carved out time from a gorgeous summer day to make soup. 

Bedroom Update

We have been married for 29 years, and for all that time we've slept on a double bed. I've loved our bed frame, which was mine before we were married. It was the very first piece of antique furniture I ever bought...a 19th birthday present to myself. It was found on the loading dock of an antique store, covered in dust, in need of repair and someone to love it. Sold to me for a mere $75! I was dancing with joy! 

But Hubby and I are not small people. We are 6'3" and 5'9" respectively. A double bed gave each of us about as much room as if we slept in a crib. But we've done it for 29 years. The time had come for a change.

We bought a new, similar bed frame...a king size! A new mattress was shopped for. (What a racket the mattress market is. Don't even get me started!) And, the most fun of bedding!

Here's a BEFORE picture: double bed, ivory-colored coverlet, blue toile pillow shams and dust ruffle, and 19th century coverlet. 

And an AFTER picture: king size bed frame, white cotton-linen quilt, various pillows, and Kennebeck Weavers throw.

It was just what I wanted. Soft textures and an easy, comfortable feel. Classic, yet updated. 

And beyond all that, I'm doing what I've always wanted to do...have a change of bedding for the cold seasons of the year. So come fall and winter, the bed will have a completely different look...cozy and warm. I'll share pictures of that in the future.

Last Days of Summer

Summer's last days are upon us. Here in New England, when autumn seems like the shortest season, it's prudent to jump into autumn with all your heart the day after Labor Day, even though the actual start of autumn isn't for several weeks more. If you wait to embrace autumn when the calendar says it's officially autumn, the season will be painfully short. So, you see, we really are in summer's final days here. It's time to take stock of all the delights of summer that were hoped to be enjoyed to see which ones remain. Here's my list:

- make refrigerator pickles
- day trip to Nantucket
- enjoy the hammock more
- host another cookout around the fire pit (s'mores!)
- make homemade ice cream
- enjoy a Pimm's Cup (recipe here)

What's on your list? I'd love to hear!

Go-To Summer Breakfast

My go-to summer breakfast is a bowl of vanilla Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit and a sprinkling of granola. Yum! Just perfection!

This bowl was topped with blueberries and strawberries. Some other great combinations are:
- cantaloupe and blueberries
- honeydew melon and cantaloupe
- raspberries and blackberries
- mango and peaches
- nectarines and blueberries

Elderflower Spritzers (Alcoholic & Non-Alcoholic)

On our recent trip to Maine, I packed along everything we needed for cocktails. I had recently purchased a bottle of Belvoir Elderflower Cordial (can purchase here) and wanted to try out an Elderflower Spritzer, which seemed like a refreshingly summery cocktail. An added bonus was that it requires few ingredients. (Tip: You can easily pack fresh herbs by simply popping them into a Ziploc bag and leaving a bit of air in the bag. They will keep very fresh for several days.) I made an alcoholic version and a mocktail.

- Elderflower Spritzer -

Fill an old fashioned glass with ice cubes. Add 1 1/2 oz. of Prosecco (I buy the mini bottles for convenience) and
scant 1 oz. of Belvoir Elderflower Liqueur, and top
with San Pellegrino. Garnish with a slice of lime and a sprig of mint.

- Elderflower Spritzer Mocktail - 

Fill an old fashioned glass ice cubes. Add 1 oz. of Belvoir Elderflower Liqueur, a squeeze of lemon (I hand squeezed 1/2 a lemon), and top with San Pellegrino. Garnish with a
slice of lemon and a sprig of mint. 

- the Elderflower Liqueur is not alcoholic.
- garnishing the cocktail and the mocktail with a slice of lime and a slice of lemon, respectively, will help everyone not to get their drinks confused.

Cruising with the Coast Guard

Our purpose in going to Maine was to join in a Dependents' Cruise on the U.S. Coast Guard cutter on which Max serves.

We were excited to see our Coastie in action! Love that smile!

After receiving safety instructions and some opening words from the Captain, we were surprised and thrilled that Max was chosen as Sailor of the Quarter and received words of praise from the captain! Proud momma!

We were served a delicious lunch of pulled pork sandwiches, chips, salads, and sodas. Then we headed out to sea! We enjoyed watching sailboats cruising past.

We passed Breakwater Lighthouse. It is a mile out to sea, and last year, as you might recall, we walked out to it. It was fun to see it from the water this time.

We headed out to view Owl's Head Lighthouse and the charming sea cottages peppering the rocky shores nearby.

We were told that most of the crew's concentration while navigating in this area is taken up in avoiding the lobster trap buoys. They are everywhere! Each one is marked with a specific pattern of colors belonging to that particular lobsterman. In the second photo (below) you can see them all bobbing in the water. And those are lobster traps strapped on the back of that boat.

We passed more beautiful sailboats on our way back to the dock.

It is a lengthy and laborious process to tie the boat up to the dock, but it gave us a great glimpse of Max and his shipmates in action!

We finished out our day with a walk to see Owl's Head Lighthouse up close and then dinner all together at our Airbnb.

We love coastal Maine! So beautiful!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...