Friday, November 28, 2008

A Full Day

I hope you guys enjoyed your holiday. We had a very nice Thanksgiving--although it wasn't my ideal. Darren is gone. I didn't get to have my time in the kitchen preparing my favorite meal of the year. I was a little out-of-sorts most of the day. We had a lovely meal at our church and were finished and home by 3 P.M. A quick stop at the shop for a few details, home for some work in the yard (unseasonably warm), then family and friends for desserts. Oh, and a little Grinch, a la Jim Carrey--funny stuff.
Thanks for all of the comments (entries) for my"gimmick blog." There's still time for you to get in on the contest, so be sure to make your comments so we can learn about each others favorite holiday traditions.
I'll tell you what might become my favorite tradition. It's coming home to a clean house. Thursday I made the momentous decision to invite someone into my filth--to clean our home. Jen Stewart of Jen's Housekeeping, introduced herself to me a few short weeks ago. As I get to know her, I feel a real kinship with her--so it was difficult for me to then engage her to clean my house (it's like baring your soul). We are pigs--you can write the word on any given surface in this house! Having to walk around--turning on lights which normally remain off (self-preservation) in order to truly reveal the daunting amount of dust which has accumulated and gathered it's closest allies--bunnies formed from the hair of dog, cat, rabbit and hamsters! Gah-ross! As Jen didn't run screaming from the place, I decided to treat myself to her services. I credit her for her fortitude, but I am so fortunate and pleased I decided to give into, and recognize, my limitations. She only had time for my living room today, but what a treat to look at our beautiful plaster ceiling medallion and see it free of the cob webs!
Really, that's what made me decide to ask her for help. It was listening to her be so complementary about our house and realizing that it wasn't showing at it's best potential because we have let it fall into such decay. I feel fortunate each day I walk through our door--it's a beautiful home, but you wouldn't know it to see it most days! Darren has taken great care in preserving our roof and working to remove layers of paint--to restore it's original splendor. The least I can do is keep it clean--yes, it would appear so, "the least I can do." My love affair with this house is restored, thanks to Jen's help--not just her cleaning skills, but her ability to see through the filth to the potential. She got a great philosophy and I enjoy our conversations. You might enjoy checking-out her blog.
Well, enough about that for now. I'm sure I'm not the only one who struggles with trying to balance home, family and work. I know I can't enjoy Jen's services every week, but I can easily see how it could become habit forming. If you've got any tips to help me keep the dust bunnies at bay--in between Jen's efforts--I'd love to hear them!
Have a wonderful weekend. I hope to see some of you tomorrow.
Thanks for your indulgence.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Got a Gimmick?

Yup, yup . . . I believe I do!

You're reading, I know you are.

Okay, I don't know, but I do hope you are.

In order to find out, I've put together a prize package to celebrate the season and bring you out of your blogging shells. Any blog reader is eligible. Just read through to see the rules.

This package includes seasonally scented counter top spray and dish soap from Caldrea (because we're constantly in the kitchen);

a beautiful ornament from Wendy Addison (because we need some glitter);

a Femme de Junque t-shirt (because I need some gratutious advertising); a large take-out box of Mountain Cedar potpourri from E Barrett (because it smells like the Christmas tree lot);

a stretchy rhinestone ring (see item 2 for justification);

a package of mulling spices (because they're tasty in cider or wine);

a vintage holiday apron (because we all want to look cute while we're prepping in the kitchen);

and, finally, the December issue of Romantic Homes (because it's full of decorating ideas and recipes for the season).

I'm going to make you work for it though . . . you need to leave a comment here on my blog (not in an email) regarding your favorite fall/winter holiday tradition. We'll toss all of your names in a hat and choose a winner on December 7th. Heck, I'm giving away so much stuff, I may enter!
If this works out well--I may do another one before the holidays! After all, 'tis the season to GIVE!
Happy Silver Friday!
As always, thanks for your indulgence!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Can I Have that Recipe?

Well, you asked for them and here they are . . . the much sought after recipes for some of the most delicious treats you've ever popped into your mouth!

For those of you who weren't able to make it down for my Open House, we had some incredible cookies. I asked my dear friends for help and, as always, they came through for me--baking their favorite treats to share with my wonderful customers. Based on the numerous requests, I asked for their recipes and here is a sampling:

Chocolate Fudge Meringues
(Absolutely weightless, these fluffs of chocolatey goodness melt in your mouth.)
24 cookies

· 3 egg whites (or egg white powder and water to equal three whites)
· ½ tsp cream of tartar
· ¼ tsp salt
· 2 cups powdered sugar
· ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
· 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. In a medium bowl beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt, beat to soft peaks. Beat in sugar gradually beating until stiff shiny peaks form. Fold in cocoa powder. Fold in chopped chocolate.
2. Drop mixture by tablespoon onto parchment lined sheets. Bake at 300 degrees until cookies are crisp to the touch. 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks.
3. Make a double batch.

Lace Cookies from Paula Deen & Friends
"This is a lacy, crisp, buttery cookie. The batter spreads considerably due to the high butter content and the small amount of flour."
(These were the hands-down favorites at the Open House!)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil, parchment paper, or nonstick baking mats. (We used parchment paper.)
2. Using an electric mixer at low speed, cream the butter and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the flour, salt, and oatmeal, mixing well with a spoon. Drop by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. (Remove parchment paper with cookies still on it from cookie sheet and place on counter top seems to work best.) Let cool before removing from the sheets; peel cookies away from the paper.
Makes 2 1/2 dozen

Graham Cracker Bars
(These tasted like pralines--yum!)
Spray cookie sheet with non stick cooking spray. Fill entire cookie sheet with graham crackers (break them on the score line to make the smallest rectangular bars.
Bring 2 sticks of margarine to a boil.
Add 1 c. sugar then boil (reduce to lower heat but still boiling) for 10 min. Stir frequently.
Remove from heat, stir in 1 cup chopped pecans.
Pour mixture over graham crackers.
Bake @ 300 F for 10 min. Let cool.

Pumpkin Cookies
(These are the favorite cookies in the King household.)
Mix together:
2 eggs
1, 1 lb can pumpkin
1 C oil
2 C sugar
4 C flour
2 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t ginger
2 t baking soda
2 t salt
1 T vanilla
Mix well.
Stir in one bag butterscotch bits.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 - 12 mins.

Buckeyes (Peanut Butter Balls)
(This is a recipe I gleaned from the file of Darren's Grandma--an absolute requirement for those who hail from Ohio! Go Bucks!)

Mix together:
1 1/2 C peanut butter
1/2 C butter, softened
1 t vanilla
1 lb. confectioners sugar
Mix well, then shape into balls. Refrigerate.
Melt together:
1, 6 oz pkg chocolate chips
2 T shortening
Stir until smooth.
Dip chilled peanut butter balls in chocolate to coat one half.
Keep refrigerated.

Well, that is it for now. Still waiting for a few more recipes--I'll publish those as they come in.
Thanks for your support and, as always, thanks for your indulgence.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Got Plans?

It seems like I spend all year planning for this time of year--then when it gets here, I plan some more! Never more so than since I've become a shop owner, though. Not only do I have to plan for the shop, but I also want to plan for our home. The shop is fun because there are so many possibilities. Home is special because I want to create happy memories for my family.

When you’re preparing for the rapid fire holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years—you’re probably planning a lot of entertaining. Now is a good time to inventory you tableware and what you’ll use to set the table. Something I did many moons ago was to decide to use a place setting which would see me through all of those holidays—I set my table with Friendly Village from Johnson Bros. It isn’t season specific and sees our family through Fall and Winter. I feel the same is true of the plates we have at Hodgepodge from the Mary Carol Home Collection. Specifically the "country manor" plates. We have them in black--as in basic goes with everything.

In addition to the shop and our home, I'm working on plans for decorating a table at the Smith-Trahern Mansion for their holiday display. As I make these plans I'm trying to think of ideas that will inspire and be something those who visit the mansion might be able to use when they get home.

How do you get ready for the holidays? Have you planned your menu(s) and table setting(s)? I remember one year while we were living in Richmond Hill, GA, just outside of Savannah, my sister Nikki and brother-in-law, Bill were planning to come see us for the holidays. Nikki and I started planning the menu in September! In addition to the food, the wine was an added ingredient in our planning. Nikki and Bill volunteered to research the wines suggested for our planned menu (was it from Elizabeth Terry--Elizabeth's on 37th?) and brought them all with them to Georgia. I can't remember how many they brought, but I do remember it was a significant amount!

I'd love to hear how you approach this time of year. When do you start your planning? Will you have company or just immediate family? Got any tips or special decorating ideas you plan? Please leave your comments here about your plans.
As always, thanks for your indulgence.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recovery in Progress

It's amazing to have it behind us. I can't believe we pulled it off. Since my last post we've added final touches on the decorations, baked goodies, participated in Art Walk, hosted a special event for our very best customers and an open house.

Thursday my sister, Nikki, arrived for a visit (Kendall--the sister who lives here--went to pick-her-up at the airport). Kendall helps out at Hodgepodge anytime I ask and Nikki was happy join us is our activity. The fact is, I begged her to come. She's a great cook and always puts together a great menu for entertaining.

Little did she know she'd be cooking our entire menu on a griddle, intended for pancakes and bacon. Kendall cooked the turkey in her oven--the rest was on the griddle! Amazing! I left the house with a broken stove/oven and a call into the electrician. I spent the day at the shop tweaking the displays and wondering how the cooking was going. Then, around 4:30 they show-up--everything is done and looks beautiful! We had a great turn-out. My voice was gone before it started and really done by the end of the night.

Then we went home and baked some more (oven was fixed) for day two of the festivities.
More to follow--to include some recipes for our open house.
Thanks for your indulgence.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What a Day!

Oh my gosh! Several days of working behind plain brown wrappers can give a girl a skewed perspective. I actually pulled up to the house, where the corn stalks and pumpkins still reign, and thought, "oh my--I need to get those down!" YIKES! I am the "Christmas Creep."

I can't believe we were able to get the shop transformed in three days. There's still a mess I need to tackle in the morning, but I had to get out of there!

Kendall and Charly wanted to have an election night dinner so we could watch our candidate become the President Elect of the United States of America.

I hope to see you in Hodgepodge in the next few days.

One note before I go, if you haven't had the opportunity yet, please, please make the time to go see The Crucible at The Roxy. Don't even think about the assigned reading you had in high school. This is an amazing production. I can't get over how amazing this cast is and the way they told this story of a terrible, frightening and embarrassing time in America. Unfortunately, the concept isn't foreign in this day-and-age; the "witch hunt" is alive and well, but you truly appreciate our mature judicial system after experiencing this play. You only have a few more opportunities to experience The Crucible. Contact The Roxy for tickets.

Thanks for your indulgence.


PS--Go America! I love ya'.

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