Friday, September 28, 2012

Time for a Break

clock made of old lamp parts and silver pieces by California artist

new  rhinestone embellished santas and tags coming for this holiday season

I just realized that our Holiday Open House is only a few weeks away - November 2nd and 3rd to be exact! I need to get my hot glue gun going and make those handcrafted  treasures that we have for sale  during the holidays. However, after Amy's wedding, I need time  to refuel my creative juices.  So I am off on a road trip to see some very inspirational places- some of America's greatest historic inns and towns.  I hope inspiration abounds - will let you know in about a week! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Apple Cake - my momma's

Narva Lee's Apple Nut Cake

Bakes in to a crusty outside layer - almost crispy!  Dark caramelized apples peek through.

chunks of apples and nuts visible on the ends.

When fall arrived, my momma always made this simple apple cake with Granny Smith apples.  It is such a simple recipe - using ingredients that are common  in most pantries.   You can use any type of apple or nut that you prefer. I happen to love the exotic taste of black walnuts, but they are either  a "love or hate" taste for most people.   My momma always put a sugar  glaze on the cake, but this time I tried to eliminate a few calories and left it off.  My husband and I love this with our coffee in the morning, but the original recipe  was intended for dessert.  Try it and see what you think.  The recipe is in our cookbook "Romancing the Home Entertains".  It is moist and  perfect for fall days.  I was lucky enough to still have part of the cake left to photograph - Mr. RTH and my son devoured half of it once it was out of the oven!
Narva Lee's Apple Nut Cake
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 t. vanilla extract
3 eggs
3 c. flour
3 c. Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
1 c. walnuts, chopped
Pre-heat oven to 350  degrees.
Cream vegetable oil, sugar and eggs together.
Sift flour, salt and baking soda together.
Mix flour mixture with the oil and sugar mixture.
Stir in vanilla, apples and nuts and combine well.
Bake in a greased and floured bundt pan  for 1 hour 30 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. ( Watch closely the last 15 minutes as ovens cook differently)
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes , then invert on cooling rack and cool completely.
Glaze:  optional
1 stick butter
1 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. evaporated milk
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, stir and bring to a boil.  Boil over medium high heat for 2 1/2 minutes.  Cool slightly and pour over the cake.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Vintage Lace Bed Linens

selection of old lace bedspreads from the 1930's

Love the silver metallic one on the top

intricate hand stitched linen bed coverlet

vintage pillow cases made by my husband's mother

I have been a collector of old linens for over 40 years.  In the 1980's,  I used these old linens lavishly on the beds in our home as coverlets and canopies, but by the 1990's they went out of style  and were too grandma looking.  So I put them away,  not bearing to get rid of them. Being extremely collectible and popular, I remember paying top dollar for the lace spreads in the late 80's and early 90's- up to $400 for some of them. But just a few weeks ago, I saw several mint condition lace spreads for $75.00 at a local flea market. Times do change, but    there is something about the detail in the lace and fabrics that I  still  cherish.  Periodically I get them out , launder and refold and put them back in the armoir.  I have recently found this wonderful laundry detergent and dryer sachets that make bed linens smell divine from Tyler Candle Company (  You can order it online and it's worth every cent!   My freshly laundered linens will go back in the armoir waiting for their popularity to return- I still can't bear to part with them! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wedding Reception at Home - Final Thoughts

flowers of dahlias and apples from my neighbors yard still looking good in the kitchen-
just add hydrogen peroxide to the water if you don't have flower food.

almost one week later and the flowers from Twigs are still  magnificent- Jeannie you are a true find!

loving this old urn once painted black, that Laurell made
 look like old aged gold patina- she's my girl and  so talented!

enjoying the flowers from Home Depot off my back service door! Never looked that good before!

Dahlias floating in hydrogen peroxide solution on my coffee table

mums still looking good!

front foyer still bright and happy!

One of the perks of having a home wedding is being able to  enjoy the leftover decor.  Today was a rainy cold day in Chicago- fall is here. and I spent the  entire day in front of a roaring  fire  going through the 2000 plus photos that we took of the wedding reception last weekend. I edited many and started Amy and John a  photo wedding book. ( Don't you just love digital???  2200 photos would have cost more than the  party food to develop 10 years ago and then only 5  percent would have been worthy of the book!)..  It did take all week to put everything back together in my home - glasses away, borrowed containers returned, etc. you know what I mean.  But I am left with the flowers from the party, many small chores complete that are only done if one is having a party!, and a lot of wonderful memories.  When I look at the details of the party and think of who contributed each one,   I feel extremely lucky to have such an incredible group of women working with me at Romancing the Home.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Wedding Reception- Finally Here!

food finally on the table!

Grilled lamb chops and scallions with cream cheese and salami

Penny's olive dip

tomato and mozarella basil boats

roasted corn salad in peppers

roasted asparagus in prociutto

roasted red pepper cheesecake

mini beet napoleons

Strawberry tree

top of cake for amy and john to take home

macaroons on the sweets table

frozen floral ice bucket made of peonies, roses and herbs

"let them eat cake" dessert martinis complete with angel food cake stirrers

such a pretty drink!

close up of the frozen ice bucket - love to make these as they are such a surprise when unveiled!

now full of wine and champagne!

angel in the center of driveway holding flowers in basket

Lloyd pouring champagne from rhinestone embellished bottle

floral bouquets throughout the house

statue holding bouquet on buffet in dining room

the amazing cooks, decorators , bottle washers and just all around great team

time to clean up

jobs complete and we are still smiling and good friends!

After all, isn't this what its really all about???   Fairy tales do come true!

A true team- the Romancing the Home girls do it again!  What can I say-  when this group of women put their minds to it- magic just happens!   Laurell, Candy, Penny, Katha, Julie, Linda, and Christy all made Amy and John"s day happen.  It was a gorgeous 75 degree day - the sun was shining and people were happy!  It was so much fun meeting John and Amy's delightful family and really fun friends, just a great mix of people.  Each of the RTH girls helped prepare the food and decor.  When we toured Amy through the special touches that we had made for her, tears flowed- both from her eyes and ours.  Lloyd kept all the glasses full  and replenished. Jesse, Laurell's daughter in law, did an amazing job taking great pictures of the event.  I love a the intimate gathering of friends and family in one's home- it gives a home its soul.  The girls really did an amazing job - so professional yet so personal for our Amy.  We love you Amy! We will be joining for Tablescape Thursday.