Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hospitality's Greeting

Come in the evening, 
or come in the morning,
Come when you're 
looked for, or come
without warning,
Kisses and welcome
you'll find here
before you
And the oftener you
come here the more
I'll adore you.

From an Irish Proverb
Thomas O. Davis  

Photo:  Old Country Roses doll-size tea set. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Cordial and Generous Reception

Cordial and generous reception of or disposition toward guests; the definition of hospitality.   Do you know someone who is the essence of hospitality?  Someone whose greeting as you enter their front door shares welcome and a generous spirit?  Such a hostess makes guests feel welcome and well-cared for as soon as they enter the front door.  Their home home is warm and inviting.  Fragrant scents waft through their kitchen to the far reaches of their home and gracious hospitality is registered there.

In her book, The Spirit of Loveliness, Emile Barnes talks about the spirit of the kitchen. She says that whatever the season, it takes so little to make room for the warm, comforting spirit of the kitchen in our everyday lives. According to Emilie, setting a pretty breakfast table or food bar with placemats sends out good signals. Sharing secrets and concerns over tea, dinner, or the dishes helps us draw closer in love to one another. If you take the time to nurture it, the spirit of loveliness can rest in every cupboard and every countertop, transforming your life and your home with delicious warmth.

Emilie has found this secret to hospitality's essence. May we also find the spirit of the kitchen and its hospitality in our daily lives.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Creative Kitchen Storage

All kitchens, great and small, can benefit from clever ideas for storing kitchen gadgets, linens, and foods.  Not only can creative packaging help find appropriate spaces for kitchen things, but they can add interest and style to any kitchen as well.  
~ Metal tins with lids make great containers for tea, sugar packets, or recipes.
~ A garden urn lined with a fabric napkin holds flatware and old silver where it is easy to reach for daily use.
~ A fishing creel can hold oils and vinegars and look pretty when hung on a wall near a work area.
~ A clear glass cruet makes a lovely holder for liquid dishwashing or hand soap.
~ A small basket works as a handy container for powdered dishwasher detergent.  A teaspoon works as a scoop and provides just the right measure.
~ A magnificent soup tureen doesn't need to sit empty.  Fill it with zip-locks filled with crackers, seeds, or nuts.  Great storage!
~ A large and sturdy basket set on the kitchen floor works well to store oversize baking stones.
~ Likewise, long and narrow baskets can be set on a countertop to hold chopsticks, skewers, and other items that are hard to contain in a drawer.
~ The inside of a cupboard door works great as a mini bulletin board.  Attach recipes, menu charts, & schedules.
~ Fill a three-tiered hanging mesh basket with jars of vitamins and herbs.  They are handy and easy to remember when in such clear view.
What kinds of creative and clever storage ideas or tips do you have to share?

A Kitchen

Thanksgiving is past.  The kitchen is quiet after being filled with cooking activity.  The family has scattered again to dwellings near work and school.  A sense of calm permeates, yet anticipation fills the air.  Christmas will be here in a few short weeks.  Soon Christmas baking will begin.  The scent of sweet doughs, warm breads, and cookies will entice the family to embrace the holiday.  Grandma's Steamed Christmas Pudding, Dad's favorite Christmas Bon-Bon cookies, and the traditional doughy Munlie Men will be prepared and tucked away for the traditional holiday.  The kitchen may not be the most glamorous room in the house.  In fact, it is often forgotten in the quest to decorate for the holidays.  But the service it provides as the center of family function cannot be ignored!  Without it, a void would be most evident to all the occupants of the household.  

In 1884, a woman named Mrs. S. D. Powers captured the essence of "kitchen" in this sweet quote:

"When the western sun shone broad and merry over the sparkling window, yellow floor and white tables; when a savor of sweet marjoram and lavender from the window boxes was in the air and the shining stove with its bright teakettle and simmering pans was a shrine of good cheer,
I have taken portfolio and books out into my kitchen to the lightstand and little Shaker chair to enjoy the sparkling humor, the warm home radiance, the neatness and seemliness which made the place akin to poetry and clear thoughts."

The simple, utilitarian kitchen.  Source of centering and joy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010



Lighthouses serve an important purpose. From a Roman lighthouse at Dover Castle to scattered lighthouses along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, lighthouses work to emit light through a system of oil lamps, electric lights, prisms, and mirrors.  Although modern electronics has replaced many them for actual use, they still serve as a reminder of their duty as guards of the night.   Their lights still shine and they serve as a reminder of the guidance they gave to pilots who navigated the sea.  Visiting lighthouses that dot the coastline serve as an object lesson to stories in history.  They provide beauty, intrigue, and a sense of adventure to all who visit them and climb their narrow, winding staircases to a view from the top.  Scripture tells us that we are to be a light to the world.  Just as the lighthouse, we are to shine.  The Newboys, in the course to their famous song appropriately entitled "Shine", share these words:

Make 'em wonder what you've got
Make 'em wish that they were not
On the outside looking bored
Let it shine before all men
Let'em see good works, and then
Let 'em glorify the Lord

"We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining ---
they just shine."
  Dwight L. Moody

Go, take on the day, and don't forget to SHINE!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Castle Cairn "Tilting Teapot"

The Castle Cairn "Tilting Teapot" has been replicated by the owners of a shop that the owners call by the same name. According to information they share, in 1905 the Scottish Earl of Dundonald invented a "tilting teapot" for the optimum brewing of loose-leaf teas. The good Earl christened it the SYP teapot, which he said stood for "Simple. . .yet perfect".

The teapot is made so that it can stand 'tipped' or in an upright position. A small infusion shelf is about 3/4 of the way to the top. When filled with hot water, the teapot is then laid in the 'tipping' position, steeping the tea leaves on the infusion shelf that acts as a dam, thus preventing the leaves from floating into the majority of the hot water below. After infusing, the teapot is tilted back on it's base and left to drain for a minute or two. It's then ready to pour and enjoy. The tea leaves stay on the infusion tray, ready for second pot? A second infusion can be gained by simply pouring more hot water.  
What's in your teapot today?

Tea Party Redwork for Black Friday Give-away!

progress on Tea Party pattern
Fay Merritt Iseminger Designs is having a give-away!  Fay has been working on a pattern for an embroidered tea party redwork design.  Her pattern is just about ready to go on the market --- just as soon as her sample piece is done!  She says:

I am going to introduce this pattern by posting the finished sample on Black Friday, November 26, 2010. The first person to leave a comment on my November 26, post will win a free Tea Party pattern. This was a fun pattern to create. I'm excited to be able to share it with you!  Remember to look for my Black Friday post!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Thanksgiving Hymn

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens and hastens his will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,
Sing praises to his name: He forgets not his own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side, All glory be thine!

We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
And pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

Traditional Thanksgiving Hymn
(A translation by Theodore Baker: 1851-1934)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Date and Nut Bars


This quick and simple recipe makes a great breakfast dish or a simple dessert.  It's great to make ahead for guests during the holidays.

1 1/2 c. quick rolled oats*
3/4 c. dates, chopped
1 tsp. citrus peel, grated
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. almonds, chopped
1/4 c. vegetable oil

1 c. apples, raw, peeled, and shredded
1 tsp. stevia, or to taste**

Combine all ingredients and then press together into a flat casserole dish. Allow mixture to stand for 10 minutes. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. 

Slice into small squares and enjoy.

 *use gluten free oats if necessary 
**or your favorite natural sweetener 

A Family Recipe


Are you looking for a last-minute addition to your Thanksgiving table?  This recipe is fast, easy, and yummy!

Here's the recipe for Grandpa's cranberry salad that has become a family tradition. It is his contribution to Thanksgiving dinner each year. It's beautiful and turns out so well. It is so easy to make, but looks really fancy and time consuming. The perfect kind of recipe for the holidays!

Grandpa's Cranberry Molded Salad

You'll need:

2 (16 oz.) cans cranberry sauce
2 (20 oz.) cans crushed pineapple
4 cups non-dairy whipped topping*
2 cups chopped pecans

Mix cranberry sauce and crushed pineapple together well. Gently stir in non-dairy whipped topping and chopped pecans. When well mixed, pour mixture into a mold of choice. Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer. Freeze for at least 10 hour (can be made days ahead and be kept in freezer until ready to use). When ready to serve, remove from freezer and gently unmold onto pretty plate or cake stand. You can use a warm, moist towel to gently thaw the salad so it releases easily from the mold. Garnish as desired. It's pretty with more non-dairy whipped topping, whole cranberries, orange slices, pineapple mint leaves, etc.

*Rich's non-dairy whipped topping works very well for this recipe.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Herb and Seed Rice Pilaf

Herb and Seed Rice Pilaf
A delightful and flavorful side-dish for Thanksgiving dinner.  I love this recipe because not only it is tasty, but it's easy as well.  Simply place everything in a rice cooker and turn on.  Forget about it until it's done and serve.  Delish!

Into a kettle, place 1/3, 1/3/, 1/3 portions of wild rice, brown rice and
white rice in whatever proportions you want to feed.

Add appropriate amount of water and cook until rice is tender (about 45 minutes).

Assemble a container with any variation in amount of the following ingredients:

Pine Nuts
Unsalted Sunflower Seeds
Chopped Olives
Finely chopped Mushrooms
Finely chopped small amount of RED Bell Pepper (if possible)
Green onions thinly sliced
Hazelnuts, chopped
Very small amount of chopped jalapeƱo pepper

When rice is done, mix all the ingredients in and fluff with a fork. Put the lid back on and set it on the table.

I usually add a few more seasonings: salt, a touch of tamari or Bragg's Liquid Aminos, and a dash of lemon or lime juice. Don't worry about using exactly what's called for in this recipe. I substitute and add as inspired. Chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts are delicious in this recipe. I also like to add fresh, chopped herbs: cilantro, parsley, rosemary, basil, etc. Fresh, raw veggies like cucumber, chopped celery, and grated cabbage are also good in this.

God, We Thank You

God, we thank You for this food, 
For rest and home and all things good; 
For wind and rain and sun above, 
But most of all for those we love.

Maryleona Frost

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Art of Redwork Embroidery

I am in the mood for redwork!  It's a beautiful form of embroidery, especially for the holiday season.  Not only is it pretty, but stitching redwork is quite simple and fast because you do not have to change thread colors, but can stitch away until your thread runs out!

A college friend is a designer of beautiful things, and has created an embroidery design for redwork called "Tea Party".  Her pattern will be for sale soon, and while waiting for pattern publication I am inspired by a photo of her sample piece on her blog.  I know a few of you are waiting along with me.  Stitching on a chilly, winter evening is a relaxing event and I am looking forward to quiet, cozy times in front of a warm fire while I stitch.  I'm eager for Fay's design, but in the meantime may start a few redwork tea towels while I wait.  The winter is long enough for more than one embroidery project

Redwork is the art of embroidery using only one color: red. I used to think the idea was quite boring, as I tend to like selecting color families that work together in a project. But, recently I tried my hand at redwork and have enjoyed both the process and the cheerful finished sampler. The redwork tea towel in the picture above is one I recently embroidered for Val, a friend in the tea towel exchange group I belonged to.

Originally, red dyed cotton threads were not colorfast and the colors tended to bleed when they became wet. Embroiderers tended to select other colors or stitch red's in silk threads that would not bleed. Then a red dye was developed in Turkey that did not bleed or fade when washed. Soon, Turkey red thread became a reliable and popular choice for stitching decorative patterns on household items.

In 1876 The Royal School of Art Needlework from Kensington, England produced a booth at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. American women were charmed by the intricate embroidery and were ready to try their hand at it. It soon gained popularity, as more and more stitchers created embroidered samplers and quilts using this process.

Redwork designs range from very simple to elaborate and intricate. Over time, pictures of nursery rhymes, people, buildings, animals, and flowers have been depicted in this art. In times past, squares of preprinted patterns were made available for redwork. These squares cost a penny apiece, thus the name penny squares became a common term when describing these blocks. Completed blocks were used for many household projects, but became especially useful and popular for bedcoverings. Blocks were sewn together and a feather stitch or cross-stitch was used to cover the seam line.

Stitches especially common when stitching redwork are backstitch, outline stitch, and the stem stitch. The stem stitch is also called the South Kensington stitch or the English Kensington stitch, a name that probably took hold because of the popularizing of this embroidery style by The Royal School of Art Needlework in 1876.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I Am Only One

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do." 

Edward Everett Hale

It's Up to You

One song can spark a moment,
One flower can wake the dream.
One tree can start a forest,
One bird can herald spring.
One smile begins a friendship,
One handclasp lifts a soul.
One star can guide a ship at sea,
One word can frame the goal.
One vote can change a nation,
One sunbeam lights a room.
One candle wipes out darkness,
One laugh will conquer gloom.
One step must start each journey,
One word must start each prayer.
One hope will raise our spirits,
One touch can show you care.
One voice can speak with wisdom,
One heart can know what's true.
One life can make the difference,
You see it's up to YOU!

Author Unknown

Monday, November 08, 2010

Last of Summer's Grace and Charm

As the depth and breadth of autumn fills our days, small reminders of summer's grace can still be found. The simple elegance of a red rose, antiqued by Mr. Jack Frost as he visits in the night, has it's own beauty as it fades from blood red to tones of taupe. Touches of pale pink appear, and dimension and crinkly charm can be seen in the last hurrah as winter nears. Learning to enjoy each season as it comes it so vital for a positive approach to life, just like learning to enjoy each of life's seasons is important to our emotional well-being. Lessons from a simple red rose.

Enjoy a graceful and rose-filled day!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Early November Hours

'These early November hours
That crimson the creeper's leaf across
Like a splash of blood, intense, abrupt,
O'er a shield else gold from rim to boss
And lay it for show on the fairy-cupped
Elf-needled mat of moss.'

R. Browning