Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blackberry Crisp

Everything has a shelf life, even a twinkie.
Cupboards and freezers have limited space.
And my brain does not do well under too much stuff.
The cupboards are too full, the freezer is too full and my pockets are close to empty.
I as a woman love to shop.
I love to spend.
I love pretty things.
But the economy is much different now.
This would be a really good time to get creative with my time and energy.
I have found that when times are frugal I do my best work.
I cook more, I clean more, I organize my life, I take more walks.

This morning I tried to organize my freezer and had no idea what some things were.
I did find beautiful blackberries that I had frozen a few months ago.
And there was sugar in the cupboard and sugar always makes me feel happy, so obviously God is speaking to me. He has guided me to blackberries and sugar and he wants me to be happy.
I can not argue with God.
Remember, God made sugar cane, the devil made fat cells.
I suppose a casserole surprise may come out of this reorganization project also, I am just not feeling quite as guided by God's hand with this thought though.

Crisps are great with their crunchy sweet buttery topping. They are quick and simple and almost any fruit normally used in pies will work perfectly. There is no rolling and no bottom crust. 40 minutes max prep and bake. Gotta love that. And all of these items are in the kitchens of any real cook or baker. Pantry cooking at its best.

30-40 min
375 degrees
Serves 6-8

2/3 c flour
2/3 c brown sugar
1 T cinnamon
2/3 c oats
1/2 butter, cold and diced

1/2 sugar
2 T flour
6 c blackberries, fresh or frozen
2 T fresh lemon juice

Topping Instructions
In a food processor, blend flour and brown sugar.
Add oats and diced butter blending briefly, until you have a coarse mix.
Set aside.

Berry Instructions
In a small bowl, mix sugar and flour.
In a large bowl, toss berries with lemon juice.
Add sugar mixture mixture stirring gently.

Butter an 8 cup shallow baking pan, pour berries and excess sugar into, then topping over berries (you can actually use more topping in a baking pan).
If you are making individual servings then follow the same directions, dividing berries, sugar and topping evenly.
Set baking pan or ramekins on a baking sheet to catch the drips.

Bake 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees, until top is brown, crispy and bubbling. The last third of baking I take a fork and sort of break up the crumble topping a bit.
Cool 20-30 minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or very lightly sweetened fresh whipped cream.

You may need to adjust the amount of sugar used with the blackberries depending on how sweet or tart they are.
It is easiest to spoon topping onto ramekins if you are using them over the bowl of topping, that way what falls off just goes back into the bowl and can be used, instead of on the floor or counter.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Little Details

This is the 7th and final day of table setting post until the event comes again next year. After creating 11 tables myself in the last 13 years and attending for more years than that, it gets harder to see new ideas. At first every table was 'wow'. Then themes are repeated, looks are copied and dishes are used again. But what is amazing is that every table has something I like. Whether it is the placement of the silverware, or the turn of a dish, or an embellished tablecloth, there is always something lovely or interesting. The year I did a pirate table, there were two others, yet we all had our own vision. Some years there will be many holiday tables, this year I don't remember seeing one Christmas or Easter table. Businesses get involved and use this event as a subtle advertising venue along with helping a charity. Older ladies tire and fresh blood takes their place. What has been so great is to see some of the same faces each year, sometimes all that is exchanged is a smile but that is enough.

If you ever attempt this type of event and would like some input regarding ideas or the process of decision and organization, leave me a comment on a current post and I will be glad to help.

Until next year, I hope you have found something useful or beautiful here.

I love salt and pepper shakers. Not the cutesy ones, just the old ones.

Dottie's Diner menu. Soup 10 cents, sandwich 15 cents, coffee 5 cents. Starbucks are you hearing this? Simple food, low prices and probably a smile.

I have said how perfect everything on this table was. Water bottles wrapped and although they were not red, they did resemble a fire extinguisher. Behind you can just see the fabric in the middle of the table, it was shiny and red and black and really gave the feel of flames.

The simple detail of gilded and crossed chopsticks and a fortune cookie.

A perfect example of details. Just a little juice glass filled with a few flowers, but the colors along with the corn and white pumpkin flow together so well.

Peacock feather fans as favors, very special and indulgent.

The table theme was 'Eat Pray Love'. The headpiece was in reference to India.

I think this is a luggage tag, but such a perfect little addition with the train theme.

Such a pretty little pot of flowers for a favor. The butterflies used were subtle.

This was such a beautiful centerpiece. I love that the silver was a bit aged, it felt more estate like. Under each arm of the candelabra was a bud vase with three red roses. But please, don't let your candles do this. Get candle putty and spend some time to make them straight and trim the wicks. See my example here in a very difficult holder.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mixed Glassware, Tidbits and Turkey Silverware

I have said that matched sets bore me a bit. It is like wearing denim pants, jacket, purse, shoes and headband for me. Mixing is like layering. The patterns, textures, colors, all create interest and depth. Plus what if you only have clear wine glasses and colored drinking glasses? Tie them together using the rest of your table pieces. It is fun once you start playing. Add embellishments, drag out your closets and harvest your yard.

This is a perfect example of mixing it up. The colors work and the vintage plates and cups along with the simple goblet bring the leaf glass into the blend.

A very pretty mix of colored goblets. Green and purple in the peacock theme. Keeps it interesting.

Aren't beautiful glasses elegant? I would have cupboards full.

This feels like royalty.

Beautiful formal tea set.

The cutest tea set, there were even cups and saucers and spoons.

This setting was perfect, gold bamboo flatware, red and gold. Like a formal dinner in Asia.

I have done an all white table two years ago and I love them when done well. Stick with the theme....white candies in white dishes.

Some years there is beautiful and interesting silverware, this was the only one that really caught my eye this time. Now, you get to use this set one day out of the year so hopefully it is passed down from a grandmother. These turkeys looked old.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Centerpieces, Fabrics and Chairs

This was actually from my friend Pat's table at a luncheon I went to just before this one. This floral ball was GoRgEoUs! Pink roses and hydrangea's. Totally doable, just soak the floral ball and fill with what you choose.

This was such a pretty mix of florals and greenery.

Very country/rustic/harvest and large. Double duty pumpkins for favors, jack o lanterns or pies. Think of what you have that is big, use it. The rule about not having a centerpiece that you can see over is nice for conversation but much more boring.

Three gilded trees were very simple for an autumn colored table. Look through what you have and use it in a different way, these are most likely a Christmas decoration.

Everything on the table was bling except the black plates and the branches and it worked. Basically because the color scheme was black, white, crystals and a few yellow roses. These are a mix of strung beads for jewelry making, chandelier crystal drops, beaded garlands and clear ornaments. The theme was 'Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend'. Set below the beaded branches were huge diamonds and the roses. My very favorite table.

There were many things on this table which I loved, but you need to know when there is too much shimmer and shine and let the beauty stand out. A whole chair covered in black satin was too much, but the sheer tie and peacock were very pretty.

So many times chairs are over done, particularly at weddings. Although a boring chair is almost as bad as an overdressed one. The chair should wear an accessory not a ballgown. Perfect example is this scarf tied chair back. Embellished with a subtle tassel and a bit of ornamentation, simple and perfect.

This table cloth toned down the shimmer of the white satin underneath. It was so elegant.

This was lovely. It was most likely a scarf. The choices of fabrics are endless. Use a quilt, luxury sheets, a curtain, swaths of fabric, I have even used a plastic shower curtain that had a water drop effect for a girls day at the beach table. Use fabrics you would not normally consider. Layer for a great effect. Add trim, paint, crystals, etc.. This scarf made the table.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What a Dish

What a dish.
Get it?
I kill myself sometimes.
Okay if you are young that was a compliment men gave about a woman years ago.
No I don't get it either, but explain groovy and far out to me cause I never got them.

Today is for dishes or plates if you will.

I love plain white restaurant style over sized dishes. They are crisp and clean and show off food perfectly, except for pale food. I also love dishes that bring a whole new feel to the table. Fantasy, old world, holiday, formality. I also prefer a mix. I get bored with design if it is all the same. Coordinated is better for me. Unless it is a theme in color, I can work with that. I have a bit of OCD, my Christmas tree, the ookie stuff on the top where the toothpaste comes out and where the kitchen dish soap squeezes out, and yes, I need a minimum of 8 in the kitchen. 8 matching pieces of things. There is no mixture of cups or glasses in my cupboards. Weird, sure, but it works for me. Also, I never spend a lot. I mean really? Oops and a $25 dish is broken?

A few tips....
Pay attention to the details of your plates. If there is a top design, make sure they are all at the top, unless you want it at the bottom by choice.
Watch your patterns when layering plates. Match them up.
If you have a beautiful plate please don't cover it with too much or too fancy napkins, let the plate show. If you have a plain plate then you can go a bit wild with napkins, favors, etc. on top or just play up the simplicity.
Center your plates on your chargers and each layer on top. Use your fingers for measuring as you place them, I don't mean bring out a ruler. Unless off center is your goal.

My very favorite plate at the luncheon. Absolutely beautiful!

The plate was perfect for all the bling on the table, it was the needed simplicity. But what I love here were the chargers. The glitter is in them, not on them.

There were eight different train plates. What boy or big boy (man) wouldn't love these?

These next two plates were beautiful. There were four styles, two of each. But there is just way too much covering them. The napkin would have been enough and find another spot for the favor.

Vintage cafeteria or diner. Sort of like what I remember at the bus stations when I was little. I love this. And for children who totally freak if their food touches the other food (I was one of those), give them a break. These would be a dream for them.

The bottom dish is vintage/antique, translucent and lovely. It works well with the top plate because of the blue linens tying them together.

Another vintage/antique I think. Or good replicas. The gold with the cranberry color works well and it seems very formal and holidayish.

I am pretty sure these are vintage/antique also. I love them.

Everything matched, including the table cloth and napkins. Don't ask me how. Very tea party. No, not the political tea party. Ladies and little girls with gloves and good manners.

For the past two years one woman has painted her entire set of dishes. Every piece. Absolutely amazing and far more patience than I can gather. I am not sure if these are from the same woman or not. Perhaps this was purchased. Very formal and elegant.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Napkins, Rings and Bling

The idea is to pay attention to all the little things because when you do people will notice the difference. When you don't you can still create a perfectly lovely table but the lack of detail leaves the 'Wow' factor missing. Every little thing done means you went that extra mile to think of your guests.

When I create a table for this luncheon I work with a theme and just push and push creatively until I have the details that I think make the difference. I make a lot of my own items for a couple reasons, money, I can't find what I want and no one else has it if I make it.

I am not one for very fancy napkin folds but you might be. I prefer a simple fold or roll and more attention on the extras. For 'Igor's Table' one year I used inexpensive black fabric cut into squares and then cut up the edges because in Igor's lab things would be a bit shredded. For my 'Wall Street' table I bought the black bracelets that were so popular a few years ago in which you slid rhinestone letters and stars and such onto, but instead of adding the charms when I flipped them over for a napkin ring they resembled a black belt. For my East Indian table I used childs bracelets from an East Indian store, a whole box for about $10. For "Diner en Blanc', a totally white Parisienne table, I used oversized white cotton/linen napkins, rubber stamped the Eiffel Tower on them, pressed them very well and hung them on the back of the chair sort of like upon the arm of the waiter. I did the same idea for a school themed table but stamped numbers on them and folded them. The last two you can see here and here.

These are some of the ideas I liked this year....

My favorite table, my favorite centerpiece and my favorite napkin ring. Bling. These may have been bracelets although they were not large. Doesn't matter, I loved them. Like I said above, I have used bracelets before and they work wonderful. If you are really generous they could also be a favor. Invite me if you do okay.

Trim for curtain and pillows and furniture in the notions department are beautiful. This was either glued or sewn and was very elegant around the napkin. The table was a mix of Blue Willow and red and gold paisley, but the fabrics made all the difference.

Use the silk/fake flower department. Garlands give you a lot for your money. Glue or sew onto a ring or even ribbon and just tie to the back. Floral picks are a great source also because they come on a wire and you can just bend them to make a napkin ring. At craft stores floral picks have all sorts of things on them, not just flowers.

Elegant and classic! A clear napkin ring with a tiny vase. Simplicity at its best.

The plates were gorgeous but hard to see behind the favor bag. But the trim around the napkin is perfect for a bird theme. Leaf trim from the notions or ribbon department.

Nautical and oh so easy and cheap. This could be done for any pool, lake, beach or boat party. Perfect for a bon voyage party.

Tacky and fun. Use boas, garlands, trim, twine, ribbon, whatever.

If money or time is tight, go out to the yard, wash what you bring in, and leave the beauty of God's creations to shine. This could just as easily been fresh leaves, twigs, acorns, berries, fruit, herbs or flowers. A simple bit of nature.

This was so cute. Smokey's Fire Patrol badges. The table was simple and every detail was perfect.

These little glittered turkeys were about 2" tall and so cute. I think they were just set on top of the napkins but you could do a simple stitch and remove after or glue to a napkin ring. I believe they were purchased at Wal Mart (I will forgive you just this once), most likely in the crafts or card section.
Another idea would be a vintage brooch, election buttons/pins, small toy, the list is endless.

While the bear theme of this table was not my preference, the plaid napkins were a great choice. If your plates are simple then a bold napkin is perfect. You do not have to use what is offered to you in the stores. Look around at runway fashion for ideas, Picasso or Monet, interiors, nature. Make your own, or buy off the shelf and add trim, etc..