Sunday, February 26, 2012

Molly's Baby Shower

I must admit that when Molly announced she was pregnant, I started a file folder for her shower. There's never too long a time to plan. Never. I took my cue for the feel of this baby shower from her nursery colors. Not knowing until the birth what the sex of the baby is, she's doing the nursery in mostly grays (and honestly, even if Molly knew what the sex of the baby was, the nursery colors would be neutral). I just knew that working with gray would be heavenly.

There's, of course, the use of live pussy willow, one of my favorite plants (and a soothing shade of gray!). Pussy willow combined with blue hydrangea, peachy pink stock, and light lavender mums added color with subtlety.

This eyelet trimmed white tin bucket from IKEA holds two varieties of pussy willow.

A vintage wall pocket parasol has gotten much use for showers I've hosted. It was a bit of a puzzle to figure out how to keep the flowers in water (seems I had trashed the floral water tubes that lived forever in a kitchen junk drawer; dang!). So I wound up wrapping sandwich bags of water around each stem, held in place with a wooden clothespin!

I bought a set of alphabet blocks and painted the alphabet sides white and then the letters and trim gray. I'll give those to Molly for her to use (not baby safe, but might be cute in the nursery, or repainted and used for an event Molly creates!)  Some of the blocks were part of the mantle display. This included a gray doily (Found at Michaels; I bought four and used them on other tables. Not too often you find a gray crocheted doily!) Doesn't my Carl Bray painting go perfectly with the color scheme?

A metal truck of mine that got some mileage at Ali's wedding (filled with flowers and used on the kids table) got a coat of gray paint and some white trim. Miniature glass vases hold flowers and make it look like a quaint florist delivery truck in the 1930s.  This arrangement was on the coffee table where I served two keepers (new recipes I've been wanting to try and will definitely make again): a cold cream cheese and shrimp dip and a hot spinach/artichoke/mozzarella and parmesan spread.

My furniture-favorite sideboard, painted ivory with white hardware, served up the main course. (I found this white ceramic basket a couple of years ago, and it's the perfect bread basket when paired with a vintage lacy linen liner.

These Dollar Tree silverware pieces are just about the prettiest I've come across, and hands-down are more unique than what I've found in the grocery store and Party City. The spoonbeds are larger, which was a plus for eating the hearty white chili.

One of my favorite decorations was the tree with a swing. I cut a flowering branch, nestled it in a glass jar using floral foam as an anchor, covered the foam with reindeer moss, and then put that jar down into a large glass storage jar. I put the painted blocks in between the two jars. The swing I made out of a piece of thick balsa wood with string. One of my favorite vignettes (thank you, Pinterest!).

The drink table in the ken wasn't complete without rubber duckies in the punch!

Thanks again to Pinterest, I used Mason jars to act as bowls for cupcakes. I made three different kinds (coconut cupcakes with white fluffy icing and fresh coconut, devil's food cupcakes with dark chocolate icing and a Ghiradelli chocolate piece, and pecan cupcakes with cream cheese icing and chopped pecan pieces.)

For each jar I used two cupcakes. Cut each into two upper and lower halves. Started with two layers of cupcake, a dollop of icing (I used my cookie press), a layer of pecans or coconut, then two more layers of cake, topped with an icing floret and either coconut, pecans or the chocolate piece.

I had spray painted the jar lids (only the rims, not the inserts; didn't use the inserts), and decorated the jar with gray velvet ribbon (found at my favorite Atlanta ribbon shop Nicholas Kniel), and a satin ribbon flower. For the lid inserts, I printed out the name of the cupcake (using the same gray font I had used on the invitations), gluing the circles of paper to the inside lip of the lid ring. Dessert took front and center stage on a thrift store baby scale. The spoons are in a vintage baby vanity jar (and on a metal doll  veranda swing to the left).

I'm not a big fan of games at showers. This girl is all about the craft. And with an office full of creative people, this shower was a goldmine of talent ready to lovingly create something for Molly's baby. I bought plain wooden blocks, painted them ivory and sanded their edges. We painted alphabet blocks! More pictures to come of these little masterpieces!

Harleigh's bathroom got a pretty floral arrangement, as did the foyer table. It was such a fun day. Even after the shower wound down, a few of us sat and painted blocks, chatting away the afternoon. Most of the pretty decor is still up; I'm not quite ready to put it away.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shower Prep

I'm off of work today to prepare for Molly's baby shower tomorrow. I've gotten my first chance to take advantage of having an account at Hall's Wholesale Florist which is in Atlanta off of Freedom Parkway. It's the bomb diggity. I got there around 11:00 and it was fairly quiet (first thing in the morning is chaos there, so I waited it out; besides, the traffic was better having waited). I got the nicest salesman who walked me from cooler to cooler, helping me pick out a quite lovely selection including pussy willow (they had four different varieties!). Here is where I netted out, and at a price weeeeeeeell worth the drive.

Can't wait to share with you all the prettiness I've created! (And I'm so dang excited for this baby!!!!)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Car Camping

With Molly's baby shower coming up this Saturday, I bit the bullet and hired someone to come clean Chateau Gahan. She came early on Sunday, and Gideon and I needed to be out of the house. I had a church commitment at noon, so asked that she be done by then so I could bring the boy back home before heading to my meeting. It was raining, so my options for where to hang-out were limited to nil.

So in typical Dawn E. Girl gonna-make-this-work fashion, I loaded up the car with good books, paperwork to be organized, and my recipe files to look through for ideas for the week's dinners. With Gideon in the back seat, I made a stop at McDonald's for a cup of coffee (I honestly do like their coffee better than Startbucks or Caribou), then parked in a secluded section of the Ingles parking lot. Pushed my seat back and threw a blanket on to take off the chill. For the next four hours Giddy and I camped out. At one point I leaned my seat way back to read (David Sedaris Holidays on Ice), and little man found the perfect resting spot for his head.

NOTE: The pink flesh is the side of my face, where all the fat is accumulated due to my supine position. Gideon loves me despite.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Birthday Weekend

My sweet girl turns 20 on Monday. 20!!!! With no classes on Friday and her last class on Thursday ending at 1:30, she was able to be home last night in time for the two of us to enjoy some good gab time. We sat at Atlanta Bread Company, me with breakfast for dinner and her sipping a cup of hot tea, for a good two hours. Then once home, I sat in her bedroom for another hour chatting away. She's at breakfast with her grandparents, Grandie and Poppy, this morning and then going to get her nails done with Grandie. I'm meeting up with her to go shopping for some items she needs for her Spring Break mission trip to New York. She leaves Saturday evening since she teaches Sunday School back in Statesboro, so I'm gonna enjoy every waking hour just soaking in her 20-year-old loveliness.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Lil' Bit o' Catch-Up

First of all, in a phone conversation with my mom and then my sister this weekend, I came to the conclusion that I come from good stock. The kind of rugged, workhorse stock that in the days of wagon trains and homesteading would have seen me, in a given day, baking pies for the town fall social, sewing myself a dress for the annual church dance and quilt auction, crafting leather nametags for my herd of dairy cows, and refinishing the rocking chairs on the front porch in a lovely shade of shabby chic pink concocted from milk and crushed raspberries. And all this while helping the kids make nifty birthday party invitations out of old hornbooks and corn husks. I'm proud to say that I accomplish more in a day than most (not always proud to have bragging rights to that, but as long as I balance it with downtime, I'll survive and be happy). Am feeling the slow creep of a cold coming on, but channeling the pioneer woman in me, there's nothing a good old-fashioned leeching or bag of asafetida around my neck won't cure.

Took off on Friday and it felt really good to get things done around the house. Am preparing for a baby shower on the 25th and have all sorts of crafting prettiness to tend to . . . what better way to spend a day all to myself. My morning devotions were especially nice. Imagine a weekday at 10:00AM sitting at my kitchen table with a nice cup of hot coffee and a big hairy dog at my feet. Pretty sweet, I gotta admit. (What the heck is up with my iPhone images having these crazy lines in them? Time to graduate to a 4G perhaps??)

Today, the end of my perfect three-day weekend, was butt cold. After church services and before a church executive council meeting, I popped home and ate mac and cheese while on the computer. It was 10:45 in the morning. That's what cold here in Georgia does to people.

My sister flies in from Baltimore tonite for a three-day visit. I'll be picking her up from the airport. Can you say "laugh 'til you wet your pants" kind of fun?

And finally, here are some photographs of Francis Ford Coppola's newest hotel in Bernalda, Southern Italy, the Palazzo Margherita. I've not much desire to travel oversees, except to visit Greece. Now I have another very good reason to jump on a plane and cross the ocean. I read about this transformed palazzo in one of my favorite magazines WSJ.Magazine. Here's an online link. The article is as beautifully captivating as the pictures are.

[Photographs by James Merrell]

Monday, February 6, 2012

Scallops Repin

Cooked up another round of my scallop creation (see previous post), lovingly referred to as Scallops Repin (say it with a French accent for a little flourish). Just as good the second go round, and I seared them a bit longer to get even more caramelization. A nice treat for a Friday night (and way better than standing at the kitchen sink eating corn out of the can).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pinterest has created a monster . . . in the kitchen.

It has taken me awhile, but I am now officially in love with Pinterest. It reeled me in with its party ideas and crafts, but it’s now the recipes that hold me captive to this online drug.  I’ve tried a few recipes, all of them turning out well. But more exciting than the new recipes to add to my cookbook binder is the gutsiness Pinterest has given me to create my own dishes. Last night I came home and decided to make an entrée using only ingredients I had on hand.  And so I came up with what I’ll call  Repin Scallops (in honor of Pinterest).

In a bowl, combine (and to be honest didn’t measure but just eyeballed everything and then kept tasting): lemon juice, brown sugar, a little canola oil, and a dash of powdered red pepper.  Whisk together, making sure to break up any clumped brown sugar. Put aside.

Slice scallions into small pieces. Put aside.

I used about 6 jumbo scallops. I sprayed a skillet with Pam and on medium heat steamed the scallops until cooked through. I steamed by placing a glass-topped lid over them (a great way to see how they’re cooking). The steaming part probably wasn't necessary, as you'll see that I wind up browning them. But this step ensured that they were cooked all the way through, and honestly, it didn't take away the flavor of the scallops at all.

Once the scallops were cooked, I carefully removed them from the skillet and wiped the skillet dry, placing it back on the burner and putting the temp up to high. I placed the scallops into the bowl with the liquid mixture, coating them completely. Then put them into the skillet, pouring the remaining liquid over them.

The secret to cooking scallops on the stovetop is to not move them much, allowing them to brown before turning them. I did scrape the excess liquid from the pan as it began to caramelize, putting it atop the scallops so as not to waste any goodness.  As the browning finished, I added in the scallions, cooking ‘til they were just a bit wilted.

Served the beautiful scallops and scallions, lightly sprinkled with sea salt, over a bed of white buttered rice, accompanied by baby asparagus. The combination of  hot from the pepper, tang from the lemon, and sweetness of the brown sugar, along with the salt was wonderful.

I didn’t photograph it but plan on making the dish again tomorrow (have more scallops leftover) and will shoot its loveliness.

Bon appétit!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Redeeming myself

I confessed to a group at work that when faced with the choice of breed to get when Harleigh and I decided to add a pooch to the family, I was leaning toward a Golden Retriever. I'd grown up with Old English Sheepdogs, and felt inclined to mixing things up a bit. But Harleigh was adamant, and, after all, it was to be her dog (which we know, as moms, translates to "soon to become Mom's dog and responsibility").  And so an OES it was. I certainly don't regret it. He belongs with The Gahan Girls. But he is a lot of grooming upkeep, and while he doesn't shed much, the giant paws are always in need of cleaning off before he comes back in the house, a ritual that he doesn't much like but obediently offers up each front paw, and then to a sweet command of "turn" offers up his posterior so that I can wipe the back feet off.

Here is the face I see when he snuggles with me on the bed. His fuzzy white and grey head finds the pillow of my chest, and the big, black nose takes in my scent, that of mother and caregiver, walker and ball thrower, disciplinarian and giver of unconditional love. 

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