India Inspired

There was never a doubt that this beautiful meticulously handwoven runner from India would be the inspiration for a tablescape and dinner for our gourmet group when it next met at our house.

The design elements in the piece are many, but the primary ones are symbolic of the images seen again and again in Rajasthan.  I still marvel at its artistry  and treasure the runner as a favorite possession.

My first thought was for the table to be as elegant as if it were in a maharajah’s palace which meant bringing out the china, crystal and silver.  Good idea but it proved to be a bit much so began the process of simplifying.

I wanted nothing to take away from the beauty of the fabric so glass candle holders and vases as a centerpiece allowed the colors and pattern to show through.

Gold chargers did survive the cut and became the backdrop for varied colored plates that not only played off the thread colors  but were more subtle and took nothing away from the beauty of the runner.

IMG_0356With napkins of gold and burgundy and etched stems with different patterns, the table was simple with touches of elegance that fit my comfort zone.

IMG_0357To this point the only thing missing was the flowers. Choosing roses was a no brainer as in India we were showered with rose petals upon arriving at every hotel.  As luck would have it, Trader Joe’s had the perfect colors, and the tea roses nestled beautifully in their globes.

IMG_0354With memories of India swimming in my head, there was never a doubt that the food would also be inspired by that adventure.  I opted for chicken tikka masala seasoned with spices gotten in Dehli, and to my delight the hubby found Kingfisher ale at Total Wines.

I have to admit that Indian food met with resistance from some of the group, but the ale was a big hit!  Hey, isn’t challenging the taste buds part of the planning for a gourmet group meal?


Tablescape Thursday



Chili and Beer

During the three weeks of rodeo in Houston tastes turn to cowboy food like Bar-B-Q, smoked meats and chili.

When any of those are prepared at home, the table has to have some kind of western theme meaning it’s time to pull those straw hats off the shelf.


Mixed with a few farm animals, they make a simple centerpiece.  Livestock of all kinds is shown and sold during rodeo time and generates much of the money awarded to young FFAers who’ve worked so hard raising show quality animals.

Now I don’t have much in the way of tableware that would be used around a chuck wagon, so some creative thinking is required.  Denim chargers get the place settings started.

Polish pottery isn’t very western, but I picked the pieces most solidly blue thinking they would blend into the chargers.

I know I have some bandanas somewhere that I’d like to have used as napkins, but darned if I could find them.  Cowboys do wear some striped shirts which was reason enough to choose these.  And what better time to use the cow napkin rings?  They are one of those things I have no idea where they came from but am glad to have this day.

chicken chiliYou know, cowboys like to keep things simple and this table is just that and perfect for the chili that is cooking away in the kitchen.  It is my favorite white bean/chicken chili that would be tasty around anybody’s campfire especially with an ice cold Lone Star beer!

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Tablescape Thursday

Holidays, Tablescapes

Valentine Day….Another Year

Years may pass with their associated changes, but there’s one thing that remains constant….dinner at home on Valentine Day.  How that started is told here.  Actually, I don’t mind this night at home because it’s a way for me to say thank you to the man who has given me so much that makes life very special.

Over the years nothing much has changed  except for the table where we enjoy the meal.  I like the tradition of using the same things year after year as it’s the only time the hearts make an appearance.

Not so the centerpiece.  Each year I try to do something that adds a new twist to the table. I found this cute little mailbox at Target and by adding flowers and chocolate the something new is created.

Nothing says Be Mine better than hearts and flowers.

Dinner may again be the veal chop that is part of our tradition, and dessert is going to be my attempt to duplicate the cute heart shaped brownies shared by Pinch of Yum.  No way can you go wrong with chocolate and caramel!

While the brownies are baking, I think I’ll take time out for a glass of wine.  It is after 5!

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Food, Tablescapes

Winter = Comfort Food

What is it about winter that turns our thoughts to comfort food?  I guess it’s because winter means colder temperatures, inclement weather and, all too often, gray skies.  All those things make me want to stay inside which generally means spending more time in the kitchen.

For several days I craved chicken pot pie, so I finally broke down and made one.  I didn’t have the traditional ingredients so it was time to look in the pantry and refrigerator to see what might work.    On hand were a couple of chicken breasts, sweet potatoes, leeks, green beans,  mushrooms and a sheet of puff pastry.

While the chicken breasts were cooking in salted water, I chopped and readied the vegetables.  I steamed the sweet potatoes and green beans for a few minutes and sautéed the leeks and mushrooms in olive oil to soften everything up.

Once the chicken cooled enough to cut into bite sized pieces, all the ingredients were mixed together along with salt and pepper to taste and a teaspoon of herbs de provence. Now all that was left was to make a basic white sauce with a little parmesan mixed in and rolling out the puff pastry.

All done, the pot pies were ready to pop into the oven to bake until the pastry was a golden brown.Since the mixture proved to be quite generous, I thought it would be fun to make individual servings in these Polish pottery vessels.  Also, they would make it easier to serve as pot pie can be kinda messy.

They also became the starting point for an easy table setting.  

Flowers and candles were already on the table so adding denim chargers

and woodblock placemats and napkins that I got in India completed a table as comfortable as the food that would be served.  Have I ever mentioned how much I like to keep things simple?  

Oh, I should tell you the pot pies were scrumptious so the nontraditional ingredients combined in a most successful dish.  Now if I can just remember how it was done, I’ll make it again!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


Food, Tablescapes


IMG_0182Does this tell you it’s cold in Houston?  With temperatures the last several days being below freezing, one is not encouraged to venture far from home.  That means it’s only natural to think of warming with comfort foods like soups and stews.

In the refrigerator were most of the makings for beef stew though the pantry was empty of the diced tomatoes and broth I typically use for liquid.  That being the case required some creative thinking, so I added a bottle of beer and at the last minute the remains of some frozen edamame and red pepper and tomato soup that had accompanied a grilled cheese sandwich on another frozen day.  Noting the ingredients, the hubby raised his eyebrows in questioning wonder. 

While the stew was bubbling away,

IMG_0131I got the bar, where we eat most of the time when it’s just the two of us, ready for dinner.

It’s nothing fancy,  but I do choose dishes that go with whatever happens to be on the surface.  If you’ve seen any of my tablescapes, you know that seldom is an eating surface unadorned which makes it very easy to add on.

IMG_0136With fragrant smells emanating from the kitchen, we settled to watch the evening news.  By the time the latest Trump bashing was over, the stew was ready and guess what?  Those extra added ingredients combined for a pretty tasty creation which goes to show you don’t always have to rely on the tried and true.  Cooking is just another way of expressing your creativity.

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Tablescape Thursday

Share Your Cup Thursday

Full Plate Thursday




Mixing It Up

Keep in mind that no table top in my house is ever going to be empty and whatever is there is going to influence what happens next.  For no reason other than it’s seldom used, this table runner was chosen as a starting point.

The colors had me stumped, but as I looked around the house several pieces of pottery seemed to cry out, “Try me”.  That sounds kind of Alice in Wonderlandish, but I could find no reason to resist.

In place I rather liked the way the colors seemed to play off each other, and it made me happy to see some of my favorite pottery grouped together..

A few evenings later friends were coming for dinner and my thinking was there was no way I could set a table around this quirky centerpiece.  Being one who does not like to undo, I challenged myself to make it work and what followed was great fun.

There was enough blue in the runner to make me think to try the Polish pottery which is the only blue in the cupboard.  I tried them at first on a square, natural placement which was kinda blah so I added the blue denim charger.

If you are familiar with this pottery, you know that no two pieces are alike.  The real surprise here was that many in this collection had colors similar to the runner.

On a roll now, I saw no reason for the stems to be the same so each place has a different one.

Mixing things up is my favorite way to create a table and each piece that was added did just that yet there is a cohesiveness to how it all comes together.

There is enough going on without making a big deal out of the napkin so it is tied simply with a piece of twine.

From this table I learned to never say never which can open the door to a special kind of creativity.  I say go for it!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


Tablescape Thursday


Holidays, Tablescapes

The Accidental Table

“So,” said the daughter, “do you think it’s time for me to inherit the Spode Christmas dishes?” She may have thought she was joking, but her message came just in time for me to pack them up and take them to Tennessee where we were going to be celebrating Christmas. The hubby thought I was nuts, and the daughter was totally surprised when the bag was unpacked and out came the dishes. Hey, there’s nothing like spontaneity!

The task of setting the table for Christmas dinner was given to me and was a bit of a challenge as it wasn’t immediately obvious to me what could be used as accessories. A trip or two around the house provided a few things with which to work. There was a red and white plaid blanket from the back of a chair that could be folded to serve as a table runner and from another era came a couple of teddy bears. So began the making of a table. Outside was a still healthy rosemary bush, and a few sprigs came in handy not only to fill some space but to add a pleasant fragrance to the table.

Now, keep in mind this daughter is very much a fan of French country decor, so it was inevitable that the table have those touches. Scallop edged placemats are the new backdrop for the Spode dishes and with several teenagers joining us for dinner, it made perfect sense for them to be paper.

Stems are the ever popular bee embellished ones,

and the napkins are French traditional white with red stripes woven in. To dress them up a bit, a sprig of rosemary was tied with red and white twine. Thank goodness for that rosemary bush!

Considering this is a table that was not supposed to happen, it turned out OK. The Christmas tree dishes are fine in their new environment, and it tickles me that the daughter wanted them though she might not have been expecting them quite so soon! Now all that is left is to enjoy the meal that will soon be shared with family. That’s the gift of Christmas.

I hope you have had a most wonderful day.