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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Winter Landscape inspires the Tablescape



Inspired by the winter scene on our screened in porch, a winter white tablescape seemed
 
appropriate for the month of January.
 

 
 I pulled ivory dishes, horn and silver from the dish pantry.

 
Anchoring the centerpiece with a vintage square silver tray,
the winter white
dishes were layered with the  horn and silver serving pieces.



I love the combination of silver and horn or ivory.
 


 
Horn knives with sterling silver decorative banding in a vintage celery vase.

 
Our local grocery store had just received the blush carnations and they were the  perfect
color. Plus they last forever!

 
 
Old Paris porcelain soup bowls were layered on  square placemats that were a patchwork of grey, silver, and white cow hides, a recent Home Goods score!
The pewter mug from Match finishes the setting.
 
Time for a warm winter stew.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Vitamix- A Kitchen Wonder

During the holidays while making smoothies for my grandchildren, my blender finally stopped working!  Those frozen strawberries and peaches just wore it out.   So much to my delight, I woke up one morning in early January and found a late delivery from Santa on the kitchen island- a Vitamix!  

I am in love with this machine.  I am amazed at it's power and speed.  So I have been busy making smoothies- my favorite treat in the morning.  It is easy to keep frozen fruits in the freezer,  Greek yogurt and juice in the refrigeration.   The combinations are endless and so are the additives, from protein powder to wheat germ.



 
One of my favorite combinations-
greek yogurt, honey, mango and peach juice, frozen peaches and a few ice cubes. 
 
 
 
Another delicious treat prepared in the Vitamix is Cream of Asparagus soup. I found the recipe in the cookbook that comes with the machine. It was restaurant quality, if I do say so myself.  I simply roasted the asparagus in a little olive oil, salt and pepper in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Cut the spears into 3 sections and added them with hot chicken stock and a little cream to the vitamix container.  Then you simply hit the "soup" button on the machine and let it do it's thing!   It was amazing. 
 
 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) asparagus spears, cooked (reserve one cup pieces for garnish)
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) half and half
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Vitamix has a wonderful website with videos, recipes and general information about the machine.
 
 
But now I must share with you the most amazing treat that I have made in this life changing, delightful machine.
Enough with those healthy smoothies!  Opening my  email from  Epicurious, I  found this recipe and knew I had to try it!
 
 
 
The Easiest Chocolate Mousse Ever

Ingredients

       
  • 6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate (such as Valrhona), chopped, plus extra for shavings (optional)
  • 1 cup milk (any fat content)
  • 2 tablespoons brewed espresso
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
  • 2 eggs (the freshest possible)

Preparation

1. Place the chocolate in a blender.
2. Heat the milk, espresso, and butter in a small pot until the milk is scalded, about 3 minutes.
3. Pour the milk mixture into the blender and blend until the chocolate is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
4. Add the eggs and blend until no lumps remain.
5. Pour into cups and chill until set, about 1 1/2 hours. Garnish with the chocolate shavings, if desired, and serve.


http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/The-Easiest-Chocolate-Mousse-Ever-241657

Note:  I used instant espresso powder to make my brewed espresso and 2% milk.
I also used a mixture of semisweet and dark chocolate and added the extra sweetness with whipped cream on top. 


The was the easiest dessert ever and absolutely divine!   It made 6 servings, perfect for my husband and I for 3 days.  and seemed to get better everyday.  I would describe the texture as more like a chocolate pot de crème rather than a mousse.
 
 





 
 
This is now a go-to recipe for me.   It was soooooo good and sooooo fast.


 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Chicago Botanic Gardens Winter Wonderland

The Chicago Botanic Garden has a Winter Wonderland that is perfect for cold days during the holiday season.  While inside a warm building, you can enjoy iconic Chicago buildings made of natural botanical materials. It's a treat for young and old alike! 


 
Toy  trains meander through the exhibit  surrounded by fresh greenery and flowers.













 
Leaving the exhibit, you can wander through the warm greenhouses, full of holiday florals.


 
 
And even leaving the heated building, and walking back to your car, you cannot help noticing
the beauty of the winter gardens.




 
 
Happy New Year! 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Celebrating Christmas 30 Years in this Home

  Our home has been full of laughter, crying, yelling, running, fighting, hugging, playing, and more running, during the past week.  Five grandchildren between the ages of 10 months and 7 years old  and 10 adults filled this house for the week of Christmas.  "Noisy and loud" would be an understatement to describle the past 7 days. Now, all of a sudden there is a quiet hum- just the sound of the washer and dryer going!  Everyone left for home today and I can't believe that Christmas went by so quickly.  I am sure many of you know exactly how I feel- a little sad and a little happy that the whole thing is over.  Before I begin to dismantle the holiday decorations,  I want to record every detail about this Christmas.  It is the 30th Christmas that we have celebrated in this home. And we have grown from a family of 4 in 1984 to a family of 13 in 2014 with significant others making it 15
(and let's not forget the 2 dogs that insist on joining in on the festivities)!
There are  a whole lot of memories within the walls of this house. This is probably the last Christmas that we will spend in this house,  as we will be  building a new home in a warmer climate.  So I am a bit sad and a bit excited .   So with this in mind, here are  some of my favorite Christmas pictures .

 
The vase of red amaryllis that continued to open as the week went by.



 



 
 




Touring the Chicago Botanic Gardens Winter Wonderland
 
 
 
 
 
 










 



 

 
 
 
Aunt Julie and Cole baking cookies for Santa
 
Audrey baking cookies

 
 

Taking the cookies to the fireplace- where Santa will arrive after they are asleep!
Audrey decided that we also needed apples and pears for the reindeer.

 
Santa's note back to the children!
 
 
 
 
 

 
The dogs claimed my daughter's gift- a lamb's wool rug- as their own!

 


 
Now it's my turn!
 
 
 
My daughter opening Harry's stocking for him! 
 
 
The children performing a Christmas play for us!  They got to pick their costumes!
 
 

 


 
 
 Addison in her spot- ready for the present opening to begin!
 
.  Thirty years of memories- holiday decorations,
Santa coming down that same chimney, children's squeals when finding what Santa brought,
 and extremely  fattening meals.  What could be better than that?
 
 
From our house to yours- Merry Christmas!
 
 
 
One of my favorite white Christmas photos of our house!