Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Silver Teaspoon Jewelry and More

It's always interesting to observe how life happens.  Today I happened upon a silver bracelet that was handmade by an 80-year-old woman and I met a woman who was more than happy to model it for a photo so I could share it with you!  Since I have been sharing about silver teaspoons here on Gracious Hospitality, it seemed like perfect timing!  This bracelet has a silver hinge that connects the two silverware handles on the back side.  I thought it was quite unique!  Thank you, Judy, for modeling!

And thank you to Gracious Hospitality readers for your comments about how you use silver in your homes.  Here are some of the terrific ideas you shared!

Suzan said... I have all my vintage silverplate flatware in a decorative planter on the "pass through" bar between my kitchen and my dining room. I also have my everyday plates on a buffet plate rack so it is easy to grab flatware and plates to set the table. I use my silverplate everyday and keep my sterling silver for special occasions. I love digging through boxes of flatware at yard sales and flea markets looking for my favorite patterns! 

Marilyn said... I do have a collection of silver spoons which I have sitting in an old gravy dish. I am not sure I could drill holes in them.    
Karen said... I love old silver teaspoons. I purchased a bracelet and a ring made of spoons. I use some of my old silverware bent as a hook for hanging dried flowers or whatever. I don't have many pieces of silverware but am always looking for more.    
Adrienne said...I think there is such beauty in tarnished silver - the colors bring out the pattern in ways brilliant shine cannot! I love to keep my old silver spoons in my great-grandmother's carnival glass spooner. It was always on the table in her kitchen, filled with spoons for those who may need one to taste the delectable tasties coming from her oven!
Great ideas!  Isn't it fun to learn of the creative and effective ways that others use to express themselves with pretty vintage pieces?  If you have time, go visit the blogs of Suzan, Marilyn, Adrienne, and Karen.  I know they will be most gracious hosts!

Old Silver Teaspoons in Home Decor

In most kitchens, silverware has been replaced by stainless steel flatware.  But for those who enjoy vintage things, a tarnished silver teaspoon is a great find when on a thrifting adventure.  Although some may use them as intended ~ to stir a cup of tea or nibble on a dainty dessert ~ most collectors take pleasure in using them as part of their home decor.  Long past is the day when silver had to be perfectly polished to be considered beautiful.  The Shabby Chic trend favors the dark, tarnished look.  This look is elegant and beautiful in its own way.  I will admit, though, to explaining that to some of the guests in my home.  You know, the ones who still abide by the rules of home decor as established for proper homemaking years back.  In the meantime, my silver tea set remains unpolished for most of the year.  Occasionally I will give it some polish just so it doesn't turn completely black.  I like the contrast of dark and light in the scrolled pattern and fancy edges.  But, back to the simple, silver teaspoon.

The use of the silver teaspoon for home decor is only limited by one's imagination.  Here, a creative crafter has drilled holes in spoon handles and hung them on a wire lampshade frame as an accessory for vintage or French country style decor.  The lampshade is placed upon a simple base and a clear light bulb is used as the source of light.  Satin ribbon is threaded around the lampshade wire and small ribbons are used to attach the teaspoons.  Tiny bows are tied at each place of attachment.  This lamp was somewhat lost in the midst of a jam-packed antique mall, but I think it would be beautiful and effective in a carefully selected spot in the home.
Another use of antique silver teaspoons is to create a hanging piece of art.  Not exactly a wind chime, but similar, this array of mismatched teaspoons is effective and pretty as they hang from a ceiling on a metal frame.  This inventive piece of home decor was created by Bonnie, a friendly and talented woman who owns a shop filled with custom French country decor.  A great deal of the furniture and art she sells in her shop was created by her!  She has some amazing pieces and her silver teaspoon art especially caught my eye!

Another simple, but very effective way to decorate with old silver teaspoons is to mass them together in an old pitcher or vase.  There is something quite stunning about placing a collection of simple items altogether in one place.

What do you do with your bits and pieces of old silverware?  We'd love to hear your comments and suggestions.  Would you share them?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Friends of Gracious Hospitality

Friends of Gracious Hospitality is a wonderful place to make new blogging friends.  It has recently been updated and shows blogs by most recent post.  I invite you to spend some time visiting your blog friends there and making new ones from this resource.  If you are a Gracious Hospitality reader and have a link to Gracious Hospitality on your blog --- but don't see yours there --- please take a minute to add a comment to this post.  Let me know and I will be happy to add you to Friends of Gracious Hospitality!

Enjoy a great week and be blessed!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Gift of Living

"Perhaps the best way to thank God for the gift of living is to appreciate the present hour, to sit quietly and hear your own breathing and look out on the universe and be content."

Lin Yutang

~ I think that Razberi agrees, don't you? ~

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Waiting for Spring Gardens

There's nothing like fresh garden produce to give fresh ingredients for kitchen use.  My cozy kitchen has been void of home grown greens for too long now!

March is the month where winter and spring have their spats.  Sometimes winter doesn't like to give up its hold, yet spring gently pushes her way into each day.  Daffodils and crocus show promise of spring while blustery winds and chilly days share the stage.  Snow is still passing by occasionally and the distant mountains are covered with a white coat of snow. If one has garden fever, this coldness in quite inhibiting! Instead of turning the soil and sprinkling seeds, garden books and seed catalogues will have to do for now. The garden gloves and seed packets are in the garden shed, just awaiting the day when they can be used! In the meantime, if you want to sow some seeds inside, here are some tips:

Fill a clean pot or container with potting mix until about 3/4 full. Use a large spoon to tamp down the soil. Spray the soil with a kitchen faucet sprayer or a spray bottle. Spread seeds on the mix, taking care that they not be overcrowded. Poke them into the soil with your finger and then cover with a small amount of soil and pat down. If you are using really small seeds, combine them with soil or sand before broadcasting and then tamp down with the back of a spoon or your palm. All the seeds should be covered with a fine layer of soil. Gently water again and then place the pot in a large zip-lock bag or clear bread bag. Seal with a twisty and keep in a warm spot until seeds sprout. After they have sprouted, you can take them out of the bag and place them in a sunny spot. After danger of frost is past, plant them outside in your impatient and ready garden!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Spa for Your Feet

A Spa for Your Feet

A soothing food bath enhances body circulation and boosts drainage of the lymphatic system. This benefits overall health and is helpful in the treatment and prevention of colds, flu, and headaches. Although alternating the treatment of feet by soaking first in hot and then cold tubs of water, the addition of warming and cooling oil blends augment the experience. Recipes using pure essential oils may vary, but two that are especially soothing are:

The Warming Blend

1 drop ginger essential oil
2 drops clove essential oil
1 drop peppermint essential oil
1 Tbsp. almond or olive oil

The Cooling Blend

1 drop Mandarin essential oil
1 drop lemon grass essential oil
1 Tbsp. almond or olive oil

Instructions for foot bath:

Gather two large basins. Fill one with hot water and another with cold water. Ice cubes can be added to the cold water if desired. Add the warming oil blend to the hot water and the cooling blend to the cold water. Sit comfortably and submerge your feet in the hot tub for one minute. Then plunge your feet quickly into the cool basin and hold there for one minute. Repeat this process at least 2 to 3 more times. Remove your feet from the cool basin last and pat try with a dry towel. Moisturize feet with lotion and put on warm socks to keep feet warm. Relax and enjoy the benefits of the spa treatment. Repeat the process several times; morning and night if necessary.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Audrey's Crown Gems

Audrey's Crown Gems

*a delicious cookie free of leavening agents

1/2 cup liquid sweetener of choice (brown rice syrup, agave syrup, or maple syrup)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup dates, chopped
1 cup nuts
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup brown rice bran
1/2 cup flax seed
1 1/2 cups oat flour, blended*
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients together. The dough will be stiff, so you may have to use your hands. Form dough into logs and then pinch off a small ball of dough. Roll in chopped nuts. Place in mini muffin tins with paper liners. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes. Do not overbake!

These are delicious! I add a dab of stevia for additional sweetness.  

*Use gluten-free oats if avoiding gluten products.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Trusting with Roots

  Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river,  and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

    Jeremiah 17:7-8

~ Thurston and a ranch hand, checking on the cattle up Jordan Canyon ~

Friday, March 19, 2010

In Tea

In Tea the host is simplicity and the guest elegance.
If all is done in sincerity it is better than a thousand graces.
~ Matsudaria Naritada ~

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Delightful Garden Grows

All that in this delightful garden grows, 
Should happy be, and have immortal bliss.

Edmund Spenser

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Think Green!

I'm thinking green this morning, as the Irish around the world celebrate St. Patrick's Day!  From tiny critters found in nature, to celebrities like Martha Stewart who appeared on The Today Show to talk about cooking foods of emerald, green is the color that is on everyone's mind.  Earlier this week, Bobby Flay hosted an hour-long and informative show on Food TV which was a true travelogue of Ireland and a discovery of Irish foods.  It is such a beautiful land with many traditional, but flavorful foods.  Bobby shared that Irish Americans are the second-largest ethnic group in America (the first-largest are the German Americans).  With so many Americans with an Irish heritage, it is no wonder that talk shows, Facebook friends, and blogging buddies are enthusiastically celebrating by talking, eating, and thinking green!  Happy St. Patrick's Day to you!  Now, go take on the day with a cuppa tea and a wedge of Irish soda bread!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thoughts and Feelings

"Your feelings, and the thoughts that created them, are your own responsibility, nobody else's.  Change your thoughts if you want to change your feelings. . . Imagine your mind as a garden.  Which thoughts will you plant in it?"  

~ Sue Patton Thoele ~

Photo ~ Tombstone, Arizona

Monday, March 15, 2010

Popcorn Blossoms

My confused little Christmas cactus refused to bloom during the holidays.  So, I was delighted a few days ago to discover white blossoms budding out all over, looking just like popcorn!  Now, beautiful white blossoms grace the ends of long chains of greenery, a fact that brings me much joy!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gracious Lady Tiggy-Winkle

"Then Mrs. Tiggy-winkle made tea --
a cup for herself and a cup for Lucie.
They sat before the fire on a bench
and looked sideways at one another.

Mrs. Tiggy-winkle's hand, holding the tea-cup, was very very brown,
 and very very wrinkly with the soap-suds; and all through her gown
 and her cap, there were hair-pins sticking wrong end out; so that
 Lucie didn't like to sit too near her."
 Beatrix Potter, The tale of Mrs.Tiggy-Winkle
 * * *
Can't a lady be gracious with soap suds on her hands and hair-pins sticking wrong end out?  I propose that she can.  Gracious hospitality is being favorable, kind, benevolent, merciful, disposed to forgive offenses, and to impart unmerited blessings (dictionary).  Even in mundane circumstances, a woman who is not reluctant to be a generous hostess can exemplify all that is a gracious lady.  It's a heart thing!  Simple kindness generates qualities of royalty in its best sense.
Do you agree or disagree?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Little Silver Teaspoon

Sometimes something as simple as a silver teaspoon can lighten a woman's heart!  This utilitarian culinary tool was designed to be used for stirring or sipping a cup of tea.  But most of us use it for so much more!  We use it for eating cereal or ice cream from a bowl; for serving sauces or dips; or for scooping into a sugar bowl so we can sprinkle sugar on cereal or tea.  Some of us even treasure the lowly teaspoon for the beauty it brings to our home.  Silver teaspoons in a pressed glass pitcher look beautiful on a sideboard or hutch.  A cluster of teaspoons bundled into one stack and tied with a satin ribbon becomes a lovely accessory when set on a lace doily and end table.  Sometimes silver teaspoons are tied with fishing line and are hung from an object to make a kitchen wind chime.  From tea service to home decor, the silver teaspoon serves many purposes as it becomes an object of hospitality.

When setting a tea table with a teaspoon, it requires a quick check in an etiquette book to determine proper placement.  Most entertainers place it next to the knife, but it really belongs with the teacup and saucer.  The cup and saucer belong next to the plate and flatware.  The teacup and saucer are placed to the right when table setting and the teaspoon belongs on the table to the right of the saucer.  All alone without fork or knife, its gracious charm can shine!

Some are reluctant to use silver teaspoons because they think they are too much work to maintain.  Silver tarnishes when exposed to air and over time silver turns from silver to gray and black.  Polishing with silver polish does not take much time, but an even more simple technique is to place silver teaspoons in a sink of warm, soapy water.  Add a foot or two of aluminum foil, all crumpled up, and let the silver soak for a few hours.  Then wash and dry as usual.  The tarnish should wipe right off!

When reviewing guidelines for teaspoon etiquette, one can smile at the comical rules they explain.  I am even reluctant to repeat them, but I think you might enjoy an overview and a smile as well:

*Do not use sweeping circular motions when stirring your tea.  Instead, place your teaspoon at the six o'clock position and fold the liquid towards the twelve o'clock position two or three times.

*Do not leave your teaspoon in your teacup.  Instead, place it on the right side of your saucer.
The lovely little teaspoon.  Utilitarian.  Useful.  Yet a tiny object that brings joy, especially when used to stir a superb cuppa tea!

Tiny Touches of Spring

Touches of spring can bring cheer and color to home decor.  Arrangements of fresh flowers on a table or counter top can create interest and wafts of reluctant fragrance to the passerby.  The earliest spring flowers are usually tiny, making floral design difficult.  Collecting simple, small containers can be beneficial as vases for miniature arrangements.  Those with narrow mouths work best as they guide fragile stems into their vile.  These work well for holding snowdrops, violets, pansies, miniature daffodils and more.  Set on a windowsill, suctioned to a glass cabinet door,  or hung from a knob, arrangements of these small elements of spring establish a gentle and gracious ambiance in the home.  Let their sweet flower faces entertain all who enter your door.  Take time to stop and smell the flowers.     


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Napkins Bling

Yesterday a friend stopped by and brought a gift that brought me simple delight!

Old, worn napkin rings were adorned with bling, bling, bling!  Old earrings and broaches from some woman's  jewelry box were recycled to make this lovely gift. The result was a set of vintage hoops for napkins of linen and lace.

Quirky and pretty, these rings will assist me as entertainer at many an afternoon tea.  Can you picture them with an assortment of old china, mismatched silverware, hand-painted teacups and saucers,  and a three-tiered tray of scones, dainty tea sandwiches, and tiny desserts?

My friend's gracious gift was melded with the hospitality of a cup of tea.  We chatted for hours, sharing tidbits of our lives.  We were reluctant to end  the afternoon, but parted with plans to share time and a cuppa tea together again soon.  Someday soon I'll share about some of the 
other gifts she brought.  Life is good!

Monday, March 08, 2010

March Juxtaposition

The simple, sweet smell of spring is beginning to fill the air.  Because winter is reluctant to unclasp its hold, the fragrance of each fresh blossom is mixed with the aroma of passing rain showers.  These showers, mixed with sunshine, are turning lawns green and flowering trees are starting to bud in pale pinks and white.  The gold of daffodils mix with the purple of crocus.  The splash of color awakens the senses and inspires the soul of the observer.  The gracious hospitality of garden bed creates joy as each blossom becomes entertainer and center-ring. March is the juxtaposition between two worlds.  And the heart of this woman is glad!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

March Madness

March weather can be madness as wind, clouds, showers, and sunshine vie for dominance as the season changes.  Early spring can be dreary or spectacular, depending upon the weather condition on the daily stage.  There is beauty somewhere, though, in each aspect and change. Reluctant shoots poke through the earth as the temperatures warm.  They join the early snowdrops that droop with gracious elegance. Bunches of purple crocus act as entertainer and entertainment as their blossoms open as arms stretched heavenward.  Simple joy is expressed in such abundance!  The earth expresses its hospitality and March is good. 

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Rhubarb Entertainment

A reluctant spring is best remedied by concentrating on the small changes that appear as the earth warms and greenery sprouts.  A simple green leaf can bring so much joy!  As I walked around my yard yesterday I found that rhubarb is always one of the first plants to awaken in early spring.  Small little sprouts become red stalks and large green leaves as a renewed plant flourishes on these chilly days.  March is National Rhubarb Month, and I'm sure the early appearance of this tart treat served as the guide to whomever decides such things.  My mother, always the gracious entertainer, served a tasty rhubarb pie for many guests over the years, as rhubarb is one of my dad's favorite foods.  This recipe of hers is a small sample of the hospitality served up in our family home.

Custard Rhubarb Pie
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 lb. rhubarb, cut into 1-inch slices (4 cups)
Pastry for a 9-inch pie with lattice top
2 Tbsp. butter

Combine the sugar, flour, and nutmeg.  Add the eggs and beat until creamy.  Stir in the rhubarb.  Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry and add filling.  Dot with butter.  Top with lattice crust and flute edge.  Bake at 400 degrees for 50 - 60 minutes.  Cool and enjoy!

PS:  Dad always added soft, vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A Doggy Day

Although my thoughts are that spring is reluctant to arrive, Coco and Tia love simple things like a walk along the river on a chilly March day.  Their noses lead them here and there, and they become both entertainer to those around and best friends of the other.  Always in competition for attention, they are quick to respond to a whistle or call, but otherwise traverse double the distance of the human masters they walk with.  Hours of exploration tire them out and they are happy to come home to sleep on the sofa which offers gracious hospitality!  What spoiled dogs they are!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Reluctant Spring

"Reluctantly spring makes her way.  At winter's edge she hesitates, as if she feared to come too soon.  The primrose halts, the wind-flower waits, for spring's green cloak is flecked with snow, and in her tresses wild and bright -- a dew of frost glints in the gold and sparkles in the sun's cold light."

~ Patience Strong ~

Although spring is a reluctant entertainer, a teacup and saucer in snowdrop theme can bring simple joy and gracious hospitality to those who patiently wait for its arrival.

Laurentian Snowdrop
Royal Albert Bone China