Saturday, October 26, 2013

Holiday Shopping Event November 7, 8, and 9th

We are  working long hours to bring our customers  exciting Christmas merchandise!  After getting things priced last week, today we started putting the different themes together!

                                                                 Here's a peak!

a collection of platinum and rhinestone packages

                                      Perfect to set in the corner of a settee to create a holiday touch.

Opera - a collection of candy boxes, opera glasses, black and gold entertaining items

Large fairy- perfect for a baby's room or conservatory

Religious icons.  Love the Santos with the gold velvet coat.

Embellished ex-votos look so pretty laying on the old French letters.

Gorgeous lace and string balls.
We got a lot of work done in the French area today!

Happily Ever After Holiday


Birds with long feather tails- so many ways to use them- on trees, on sconces, packages, chandeliers

Our working birdcage clock- so pretty as a centerpiece or on a buffet! We have used one of our
long tailed birds on the top.

The adorable menu trays are actually bed trays with legs!

This area will be Marie Antoinette's pastry shop- full of the cutest pastry ornaments and decorations!
Bright and fun!

Cute "cake" boxes that go in the Marie Antoinette pastry shop!
Next week we start on the Tartan and Rhinestone room- a traditional red and green Christmas that's been updated with a little sparkle. 
Stay tuned for more pictures of what's being offered for our Holiday Shopping Event.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Comfortable Outdoor Living in Chicago

My friend, Debbie, recently renovated  her outside terrace and it is wonderful.  Chicagoland gets more than it's fair share of chilly evenings and there is nothing better than sitting around a fireplace to keep warm- especially when it's outside!

She surrounded the fireplace with outdoor wicker, covered with comfortable, colorful pillows and cushions.  In the center, a large granite coffee table was placed- large enough for everyone to easily reach their beverages and food!  Delightful!
Don't you love the outdoor solar floor lamps?????? What a cool idea!!!
On the adjacent wall, a fountain flows - love the sound of water!

Another seating area is placed at the other end of the garden.
And I just love this feature to the side of the fireplace-
exquisite fall garden with a wonderful gourd filled urn!

different shapes and sizes of gourds and bittersweet, placed in a cone shaped bed of moss!
How cool is that!!! 

Wonderful job Debbie!  Truly a beautiful spot to gather with family and friends!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Madison Farmer's Market- worth the drive!

Last weekend, we went to a wedding in Madison, Wisconsin.  That was the perfect opportunity to go to the Madison Farmer's Market, one of the largest in the country!  It is held on Saturday mornings around the Wisconsin Capital building and is so much fun! 

The market is  held on all four sides of the Wisconsin State Capital building. 
This was a warm and foggy fall morning.
Most of the farmers lived within an hour of Madison.  I really was impressed with the variety of things being grown in the region.

 gorgeous large orange and purple beets

organic carrots

romesco- that delicious Italian vegetable!  very difficult to find around this part of the country.

Lots of fall foliage and flowers

Beautiful greens

Take a look at this cool pumpkin! It is pink!!

All kinds of peppers!

Artful display of radishes!

There were lot's of baked goods- pies, scones, and breads available, along with jams and jellies! 
 Fresh apple cider donuts and blueberry hand pies went home with us too!  

One of the most unusual items at the market was the Lions Mane mushroom.
  We had to try it   for dinner and it was delicious! 
we followed the directions and used just a little olive oil in a very hot pan! We then quickly tossed them with a little butter and yes- they did taste like lobster!

One of the largest cauliflowers that I have ever seen!
Unfortunately my camera battery went dead and I did not  get pictures of the sausages, cured meats and smoked fish that were available.  We purchased farm raised deer back strap, smoked trout and smoked beef and took it home to experiment.  The deer back strap was simply grilled on a black iron grill pan for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side in olive oil and then placed in the oven for about 3 to 4 minutes.  We made a merlot and mushroom sauce to serve with it!  Not being a venison fan, I must say that these were delicious- right up there with filet mignon.  Tender, juicy and very lean, I will definitely prepare them again!  It's fun to experiment!
I couldn't wait to try the "purple green beans".  The farmer told me to prepare them like regular green beans and they would taste the same.! 

We purchased purple green beans to try-
But as they cooked, they turned greener and greener! ( I was envisioning those purple beans with dark greens and diced red tomatoes- would be so pretty on the plate!)
After I did this, I looked up purple green beans and found this site! Should have done that first while I was researching how to cook the deer!! What would we do without the internet????
Here is an excerpt from this site!
Tips for Purple Green Beans

One thing I'd like to add here are some cooking tips for purple green beans. A lot of home cooks take them home, boil them up and are very disappointed when the color bleeds out and they're left with green green beans.                (that was me!!!)
Once heat is applied to purple green beans they will loose their color. Most chef's agree the best way to cook them and have them retain their best color is to "butter baste" them. If you want to blanch them cookbook author Harold McGee book suggests you add a pinch of baking soda to the cooking water to help retain their color.
Oh well- live and learn!
I could not resist the flower bouquets!

Magnificent bouquets of flowers for only $8.00!!
 And they looked great in the vintage  culinary trophy in the kitchen!

Full of kale roses and large dahlias!
It is definitely worth the 2 hour 15 minute drive from my house to go back! We took the back roads through  Lake Geneva to get home and the leaves were turning.  It was such a peaceful and pretty drive through many small Wisconsin towns.    The perfect fall day!