One Last Time

As you may know, I spend roughly half the year in Rockport, Maine, and half in Houston. This is the time of year when we start thinking about the return to Texas, and this is done with some regret. It is always hard to leave friends with whom we enjoy so many good summer times. This week we have shared meals, a last one at our house so I could use up whatever edibles were left.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASetting the table is always the first thing that happens when folks are coming for dinner. Ordinarily that is the easy part, but this one had me going in all different directions. I wanted to use the pumpkins and gourds that have been part of every table for the last month. To change them up a bit, they were worked in around a piece gotten some years ago from TJ Maxx.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat was the easy part. For some reason I couldn’t decide where to go from there. I tried this and that and finally decided to let the centerpiece be the star of this last table.
Playing off the colors in the runner, black plates were used on brown placemats. That’s pretty subtle for me!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom there, I added the harlequin patterned plates that are favorites.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor whatever reason, they just didn’t strike me right so it was back to the cabinet for more black. Additional color would have to come from the salad that would be served on them.
I liked the coppery tone of the flatware with the darker ones, but having it lay alongside the plate didn’t satisfy me. Are you beginning to feel my struggle?
Ultimately, copper and silver were combined and after several arrangements contained in a napkin.

There’s nothing left to do but add a mix of stemware
pa194660.jpgand sweet little cordials for the remainder of the puffball soup that had been in the freezer.

After so many tries, it was time to walk away and be satisfied with the result.
pa194675.jpgConsidering the changes, it’s a good thing I started early preparing the table otherwise dinner may never have happened. Later in the day the sun hit just right on the pumpkins and gourds, and I knew it had been the right decision to let them be the star. Now if I can just figure out how to get them to Houston…….

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Tablescape Thursday

For the Girls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the last post, I confessed to not being able to leave a dining table top bare, and these azalea filled chicks took over the center.  A couple of days later, they have become inspiration for a tablescape.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt took only one glimpse into the cabinet to see what dishes would be a perfect complement.  As with so much else that is used here, these came from TJ Maxx.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe thumbprint glasses were a great find at a very cluttered antique shop.  It was the color that made them irresistible.  There has to be a reason , don’t you think?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot being in this house all the time, I forget what things are where.  When I opened a drawer and rediscovered this flatware, the stainless went back into the drawer.  The quality of the flatware is not the best, but the colors couldn’t be better. 


The napkins are held in place by those things that supposedly help people keep track of their wine glass.    They don’t always keep someone from picking up the wrong glass, but they work very well as napkin rings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am in Maine a few days ahead of the hubby which is good excuse for a girls’ night, always such fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe gals have already volunteered to bring appetizers, salad and dessert which makes for very easy entertaining.  I think we all enjoy meals more when we don’t have to do all the preparation.  Speaking of, now that the table is done, it’s to the kitchen to do my part.  I’m thinking lasagna, always a good dish to feed a crowd and easy to make ahead. 

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Tablescape Thursday

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Yes to Polka Dots and Bunnies


 I was feeling pretty good about resisting all the tempting things at Pier One last week that would have made for a fun Easter table.  So why did I pop into TJ Maxx where I find it almost impossible to leave without something?  Yep, these polka dot bunny plates jumped right into my basket as if knowing that I’m crazy for polka dots and color.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe plates should have been enough, but, no, these placemats and napkins were irresistible!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADriving home with the new purchases, my mind was already at work thinking about the pieces that would make putting a table together so easy.  There were the favorite textured pink glasses,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnapkin rings with all the right colors,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsimple white plates and funky flatware just waiting to come out of the cabinet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOh, and don’t forget Bunny FruFru that would be right in the middle of things!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALooking at the table, it was impossible to feel too guilty about the new purchases.  After all, they aren’t going to take up too much space and doubtless they will be used on other occasions.  Isn’t that how we justify yielding to temptation?

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Tablescape Thursday

Inspiration Thursday

Fall Tweaking

Maine houseSince we are in Maine from May to November and our winter visits are short, not too much generally happens here in the way of seasonal decorating.  This year, however, I was so impressed by all the fall changes I’ve seen on blogs, Pinterest and in magazines I decided to make a few here.

Maine houseChange began by removing summer slipcovers and revealing the autumn  colors hidden beneath.

Maine houseInstantly, the room seemed warmer, and it would have been OK to stop right there, but no, I got the bug.

Maine houseThe coffee table has a new vignette that uses some of my favorite things in a different way.

Maine houseOn a roll now, I made a quick trip to TJ Maxx, confident of finding some new happy. I was not disappointed!  I found a cozy new throw that will knock the chill off as I sit by the fire in the mornings and read your blogs and emails.  I was delighted to find that it has contrasting sides which suits my fancy for texture.

Maine houseNew pillows for the chairs were a bonus find

Maine houseas was a garland of fall leaves that I hoped would work above the fireplace.

Maine houseUnlike many of you, I have no mantle, and the narrow stone ledge is an almost impossible decorating challenge. The garland works though it was kinda tricky getting it to stay in place.  If you look closely, you’ll see a few leaves tucked up under the edge of the frame.

Maine houseExcept for moving a piece of furniture or two, that’s the extent of my fall tweaking, but it made such a difference even the hubby noticed it!

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The Scoop

Show and Share

Metamorphosis Monday

Inspiration Thursday

Feathered Nest Friday

The Witch Is In!

tablescapeLook who just landed in my pumpkin patch!  It took them a while to get to Maine because they probably stopped in to see Mary and Kathleen.  If memory serves me correctly, they are old friends.

tablescape/fallThe gals came in a flurry of leaves and landed on this cloth from TJ Maxx (thank you, Sue) which has all the colors of fall…red, gold, orange, green.  What a wonderful background for the pumpkins and gourds that I can’t get enough of these days.  

tablescapeIt was easy selecting dishes to go with the cloth.  Yellow plates served as chargers for these wonderful Italian terra cotta bowls in perfect colors.  

tablescapeShould I mention they are also from TJ Maxx?  When you live in Rockport, Maine, that is the best place to shop for table goods.  Oh, since we will gather at this table on Halloween, it is the perfect time to use these spooky stems, another purchase from TJ several years ago.

tablescapeThe copper colored flatware from Target is making its first appearance.  Remember, I recently made a trip there, stopping along the way, and was so excited to find new things for the table.

tablescape/napkinHiding in the napkin drawer was a set of multi patterned napkins that might have been made for this table.  A little accordion folded fan works every time for a special treatment, and I do like manipulating anything cloth!

tablescapeAdd salad plates of green and orange and the table is ready.  This one was so much fun to put together because it is full of color and texture with a touch of whimsy.

Photo from My Recipes
Photo from My Recipes

For dinner, we will take a clue from Yvonne and have a Chicken Cobbler Casserole right from the pages of Southern Living and a delicata squash salad from Make Mine Lemon that I can’t wait to try.  Check the recipes out…..they are winners.

Happy Halloween, friends, and thank you for stopping by!


Tablescape Thursday

Foodie Friday

Bountiful Color

flowers/tablescapeWith these colors already on the table, how could I not play off them and create a setting as bright and happy?

tablescapeAs I puzzled about what dishes to select, I opened a cabinet to get something else and two sets of plates jumped right out.  At different times both were gotten at my favorite place TJ Maxx.

tablescapeAll are different in color and design and reflect an Italian theme which made it easy to decide what kind of food would be on the table.

tablescapeFrom here the going was easy.  Lime green placemats repeat color in the runner and the dishes,

tablescapeand an assortment of colorful napkins tucked into napkin rings added to the liveliness.  Can you guess how seating is determined?  Guys will be at the places with olive rimmed plates and black napkin rings while gals will have square plates and clusters of grapes.  All can choose their own place so long as it’s not next to a spouse!

tablescapeI love the way this table came together, almost by itself.  It took minimal effort, it is cheerful and fun, it mixes color and pattern all of which is my favorite kind of table.

food/pasta sauceNow that the table is done, I’m thinking a hearty sauce with lots of Italian sausage served over homemade pasta will be perfect.  Care to join us?

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Tablescape Thursday

Think White

“Think white,” said a blog friend Kathleen, who challenged her readers to come up with a fall tablescape done in white plus one color.  Now for me that is hard since most everything I have is about color.

white tablescapeI thought I’d be passing on her challenge until I saw these pattypan squash on a roadside table.  Not only did they get my attention because of their size, but they are, yep, white!  They are the beginning of inspiration, and I happily left dollars in the jar funded by honesty. 

white tablescapeThe pattypans need company, so off to my favorite farm stand, Beth’s.  There I found white pumpkins, eggplant and acorn squash.  How perfect!

white tablescapeI collected a few twigs thinking they somehow would work into the naturalness of the setting that is taking shape in my head. 

white tablescapeNow for the dishes.  No all white here,

white tablescapebut perhaps Kathleen won’t mind if I cheat a little and hide the pattern with a clever napkin fold.

 white tablescapeThe black napkin actually provides a better background than the plate for the white pumpkin .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA With the addition of glitzy and spooky black stems just gotten from TJ Maxx and black handled flatware from Maine’s favorite department store, Reny’s, the table is coming together.

white tablescapeAll done except for finding some white votives.  The table is simple, the style that best suits us, but I must confess to it having been more of a challenge than one might think.

white tablescapeWalking past it later in the day, I love how the late afternoon sun makes the white come alive with a golden radiance.  I am looking forward to having tonight’s dinner here, but I doubt that it will be all white!  

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Let’s Dish

Tablescape Thursday

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Company’s Coming

When folks come to visit, I like to have the first night’s dinner well underway when they arrive so they can settle in and relax after what has probably been a long day of travel.  Maine is not the easiest place to get to!

tablescapeAlready on the breakfast room table are these wonderful antique beer bottles, but instead of being filled with beer, they hold a stem or two of near season’s end hydrangeas.  I love how the bloom changes from white to green as it matures.

tablescapeDinner is a casual affair, so I’m going for comfort with simple black square plates from Ikea  on these placemats of many colors.  I love the flared top of the placemat which creates just enough space for a glass.

tablescapeHmmm, there are salad plates to match the larger ones, but now seems a good time to use the black and white ones scored at Goodwill last week.  I’m beginning to like shopping there for new treasures!

wine bottle holderThe wine bottle holder is one that I brought back from a spring trip to Vietnam, and it is a definite conversation piece as everyone is intrigued by how it stays balanced!

tablescapeAdded to the mix are the much used King’s Crown thumbprint glasses and flatware from TJ Maxx, another of my favorite shopping haunts.

Now, it’s to the kitchen to start dinner which features very fresh scallops.  I promise you this dish is what we call a real moaner as moans of appreciation replace words at the table!

scallops/mushroom couscous risottoCarmelized Scallops with Mushroom Couscous Risotto


2 T. olive oil

2 T. finely diced yellow onion

1 t. minced garlic

1 c. Israeli couscous (I like the tricolored)

1 1/4 c. water

2 t. sea salt

In a 3-4 quart saucepan, saute onions in olive oil over medium high heat.  When they start to brown, add garlic, stir for 1 minute, then add water, couscous and sea salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir gently.

Mushroom Risotto

1 T. unsalted butter

4 T. diced yellow onion

4 t. minced garlic

2 c. oyster mushrooms cut in 1/2″ pieces

1 c. heavy cream

prepared couscous

2 T. chopped parsley

2 T. chopped chives

Preheat large saute pan over medium high heat.  Melt butter and saute onions, garlic and mushrooms until they start to brown around the edges.   Add cream and salt.  Bring to a boil, add couscous, breaking up any clumps.  Cook until most of the cream has soaked into the mixture.  Gently fold in herbs and adjust salt and pepper.


1 T. canola oil

1 1/2 lbs.  sea scallops

1/2 c. sweet Vermouth

1 c. heavy cream

Preheat saute pan over high heat.  When hot, add oil and immediately add scallops with a flat side down.  Sear only one side until you see a light brown caramelization coming up the sides.  Remove from heat and add vermouth.  Gently remove scallops from pan to a room temperature casserole dish.  Add cream to pan and return to high heat.  Bring to a boil, then immediately pour over scallops and let rest for 2-3 minutes to finish cooking scallops.

To serve place a serving of “risotto” in the center of a bowl or rimmed plate.  Place scallops around the risotto and pour 3-4 T. of sauce over the scallops.  Garnish with parsley and chives.  Makes 4 servings.

This dish is just as good as it looks and is quite easy to prepare.  Using couscous for the risotto takes the pain out of making it and yields a surefire success.  As with any seafood dish, the real key is having good and fresh seafood.  To complete this dinner, all you need is a green salad and some crusty bread to “sop” up the sauce.  No one will leave the table unhappy!

By the way, this recipe is inspired by one in a beautiful cookbook Fresh From Maine.

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Full Plate Thursday

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Foodie Friday

Foodtastic Friday

On the Menu Monday

Sprucing Up

The granddaughters are 10 and 12, old enough now not to draw on the walls with magic marker or put dirty feet and hands all over them, so it seems a good time to spruce up their room a bit.

Twelve Days of Christmas by Rachel Griffin

New coats of paint go a long way to freshen up their room,  and the colors in this wonderful piece of fiber art are the inspiration.

bedroom decorSome things, like these pieces from an antique shop, will stay the same

bedroom decorand work great as an over the bed detail.  They are also a handy place to keep favorite books and stuffed animals which still slip into bed at night.

girls roomThe little washstand from Anthropologie serves as a lamp table

girls roomand new pillows and quilts from TJ Maxx suggest bird sounds and the color of blooming things that are just outside the windows.

girls room

 This old pine bureau seemed a great complement for the pieces over the beds.  Originally,  I thought to paint it  but have decided to leave as is.  What do you think?

girls roomFor all the little extras that are often left on the floor, maybe the bench with pull out drawers will be an incentive for neatness.  We’ll see how that goes.

girls roomThe sun comes shining brightly into this room in the early morning and while these curtains won’t darken the room, they do soften the light.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAdditionally, hanging them was a nice little project for the hubby and was done without too much fuss and only one dropped screw!

girls roomAll finished, the same space has a new look that was accomplished with little effort.  Now, all we need is the girls to come liven it up.


Seasonal Sundays

Metamorphosis Monday

Make It Pretty Monday

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A Final Tweak

IMG_2190Over the last few weeks, our table has gone from this

holiday tablescapeto this

holiday tableto this with just a slight tweak.

holiday tableIt only took a minute to replace the runner with yards of muslin that make the trees look like they are sitting on snow and the crystal bells with Santas and snow globes.

holiday tableFavorite Spode Christmas dishes come to the table

holiday tableand sit on a perfectly matching placemat which I found this summer at TJ Maxx.  I knew they would come in handy!

holiday tableSoup bowls in green atop napkins in holiday plaid add a touch of color and delightful little crackers a touch of fun.

holiday tableSilver is shining, glasses are sparkling, and I’m off to the kitchen to prepare the next meal which will have gingerbread soufflé as a most special dessert.  

SantaAnd look who just happened to stop in.  Do you think Santa would like a glass of eggnog or maybe a taste of soufflé?  Come back tomorrow and join us.  I’ll even share the recipe.

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