Tuesday, October 15, 2013

♫♫ Happy Birthday, Michael Lee!! ♫♫

Happy 60th Birthday to one of the funniest, most generous,  creative & prolific writers I know!

(who doesn't look a day over 35 & I'm told by a close relative, does not have a single grey hair yet!)

The Novel Bakers have gathered a
few friends together today, 
to wish Michael Lee West
a very "HAPPY 60th BIRTHDAY!!"

With each new book she writes,
her stories get you more & more involved,

until you’ve fallen in love with each of her characters and

feel like you know them,

Her kitchen adventures are just as entertaining, too.

You never know what type of culinary concoction she’ll whip up for her extremely popular “Foodie Friday” blog party each week.

She is really an outdoor girl, at heart,
with precious poochies & farm animals...ducks & goats, a mule, some lambs & chickens galore.

Although this year, I think she should have stayed indoors more!  
(mosquitoes & ticks seem to LOVE her as much as we do!)

 In honor of ML's big birthday bash, I set a very autumnal tablescape with all the rich, deep colors of fall to celebrate her birth month of October.


Browns & orange with deep purples & reds...all the colors of the leaves at this time of year...at least, up here in the northern half of our country, anyway.  I don't know about her state of Tennessee.


I mixed the good crystal & china with some decorative salad plates from Walmart.
Michael Lee was the first person to make me feel like that was okay to do.
She uses Big Lots white dishes along with her exquisite heirlooms all the time!


I pulled out the Dollar Tree "Happy Birthday" wine glasses...these have every color
in the rainbow & match any tablescape beautifully.
They're so fun & festive...they just make you smile!


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The wooden napkin rings have carved leaves on them & they match the brown chargers.

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The heavy cream linen napkins echo the cream china with gold rims... ("Eternal" by Lenox).


The centerpiece is VERY special to me!

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This cut glass basket was my Mother's...
it was a wedding gift & is almost 80 years old.
It sat on top of her refrigerator for as long as 
I can remember.

I think my Mom kept it up high so it would be out of the reach of her 8 kids!  LOL

Before she died, my Mom gave it to my oldest brother, 
who now lives in Kerrville, TX.  
His wife recently sent it to me to treasure & pass on in the family.  
Thank you Chuck & Liz!

To say I was thrilled is an understatement


 I told Ms. C. all about it & explained to her how she would eventually get to own it & how she would have to promise to be very careful with it.

Family & heirloom treasures are very important to Michael Lee, too & something she incorporates into all her novels.
The tales of various family cooking adventures in "Consuming Passions" are hilarious! 

I have filled my basket with beaded fruits that remind me of my childhood as well, as we had a neighbor who used to make these types of fruits by hand. 

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 The pillar candles, in my Ralph Lauren candlesticks,
 have a wonderful mulled cider fragrance to them that fills the house with the scent of autumn.

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Familiar scents can trigger waves of nostalgia & this is a very nostalgic post, full of family & memories, just like
ML's books.

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I was surprised at how perfectly the beaded grapes echo the patterns on the plates. 

I hadn't noticed that until after I took the photos.
I love those little bits of serendipity that the camera finds!

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  A double decanter wine carrier, holds two bottles of white wine so we can celebrate Michael Lee's birthday properly. 


In hindsight, I think CHAMPAGNE would be more appropriate!

 (but the wine bottles matched the color scheme so well)

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Now, if you've read ANY of Michael Lee's books, you'll know that PEACHES
figure very heavily in many of her stories.

A frequent main character in her books, Teeny, is after all, a very Southern Belle...like Michael Lee!

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Instead of making her a Birthday Cake...
(I've already tried her recipe for Vanilla Peach Coffee Cake here )
I peeled & chopped those peaches, 
added 1/2 C. of sugar & 3 tablespoons of flour to them.

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Plopped them into a pie shell & this time,
I wasn't taking any chances on trying to get fancy with cut-out leaves...
(remember THIS DISASTER?) 

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I just used my cute little pie bird from Sur la Table.  

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Doesn't he look like he is singing 
"Happy Birthday to Youuuu"? 

Perfect Peach Pie for a Sweet Southern Belle!
(peach was my Dad's favorite pie, ya' know)

Thank You, Michael Lee, for all the ideas & inspiration
you've provided over the years! 

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Be sure to stop by Michael Lee's wonderfully entertaining blog, Rattlebridge Farm, to wish her “Happy Birthday” & see what she is cooking up for the next decade of her life.

Also, try to find time to visit all the other participants who are doing special blog posts to honor Michael Lee today.  They are the following:

 Jain~ a quiet life
Kitty~ Kitty’s Kozy Kitchen
Sarah~ Hyacinths for the Soul
Sam~ My Carolina Kitchen
Rett~ The Gazebo House
Jenna~ The Painted Apron
Lynn~ Happier Than A Pig In Mud
Linda~ More Fun Less Laundry
Debbie~ Mountain Breaths
Jacqueline~ Purple Chocolat Home
Pattie~ Olla-Podrida
Pam~ Sidewalk Shoes
Mary~ Home is Where the Boat Is

  Susan~Between Naps on the Porch

Thank you to both Jain & Mary for organizing this very "NOVEL" virtual surprise party for Michael Lee.

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ML…may you have many, many more happy & healthy years to celebrate in your beautiful new home.”

I'm joining Yvonne at Stonegable for Tutorials, Tips & Tidbits,
Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for "Tablescape Thursday",
Michael Lee for "Foodie Friday",
Cuisine Kathleen for "Let's Dish" & The Tablescaper for "Seasonal Sundays"


  1. Happy Birthday, Michael Lee!
    Rett, this is a beautiful table for celebrating our favorite southern author. Your tribute to ML is wonderful. I smile each time I think of the funny, quirky characters in each of her books. How lucky we are to have her work to entertain us, and doubly blessed to have her as a friend. ~ Sarah
    Love the crystal basket. Smiling at the thought of it now gracing your table.

  2. Your setting is very pretty Rett! So glad that your brother sent you your Mother's bowl, it's beautiful! And I have a nice strong cup of coffee... The only thing missing is a piece of that peach pie-enjoy:@)

  3. Your tablescape is just amazing Rett. You certainly know how to throw a party. Love your peach pie. I've always wanted one of those little birds.
    Happy birthday Michael Lee,

  4. Happy Birthday to Michael Lee! Gorgeous table as always!

  5. Rett~ Your table is beautiful...I love how you married your colorful, seasonal glasses and salad plates with your Lenox dishes and crystal stems! Your mom's heirloom basket makes the perfect centerpiece with your beaded fruit. Neither Teeny nor a Southern Belle would be able to resist your peach pie with 'singing' pie bird and that golden, flaky crust. Thanks for joining in the fun. Happy Birthday Michael Lee West!

  6. Rett, what a lovely table you've set to honor our friend! I love your treasured centerpiece heirloom and all your pretty dishes and goblets. The peach pie is perfect for the Southern Belle Queen. Happy Birthday, Michael Lee! xo

  7. Beautiful October Birthday table! I love the way you have woven your memories into things about Michael Lee~you have lovely things and sentiments! The pie looks wonderful too!

  8. Happy Birthday Michael Lee - what a lovely fall table for her to celebrate at. Yes, I can hear the blackbird singing - and what a beautiful voice!!!

  9. What a lovely tribute! I love your mother's bowl - what a lovely cherished heirloom!

  10. what a fabulous tribute, including banning her from the great outdoors and all her horrid woes this year!

    such a pretty table, with your finest crystal mined with walmart, i too remember her telling everyone to dash down to big lots for those great white dishes years ago!

    love the chargers, i have them too, but living at the beach i miss all my fall goodies back home in the real world...

    how special to have a wedding gift from your mother, i have one from my grandmother, with the original note tucked inside the china. i agree, her books are steeped in family lore, a perfect remembrance via your table treasures, right down to scents!

    such a wonderful post, you delighted all our senses, from sight, to sounds, to smell, and of course TASTEBUDS! who can turn down a singing bird on a peach pie ;-) such a lovely post to a lovely lady, thank you so much for joining in to wish michael lee a happy birthday!

  11. Great birthday tribute. My, your pie is pretty and inviting.Your crust is impressive. I do think the little bird looks like he is saying Happy Birthday to YOUUU!

    I love your tablescape and the special memories individual pieces bring to you. Lovely and creative tribute. Happy Birthday, Michael Lee.

  12. Rett, this morning I woke up with dozens of brand new gray hairs. If I have a dozen more tomorrow, I'm going to dye my hair dark blonde. I know, I know...the horror. But I did that when I was writing Mad Girls in Love. I wanted to get into Bitsy's mindset, but I was a natural brunette. Oh, the dilemma. I ended up with orange hair. After an emergency trip to the salon, I emerged with sassy, brassy locks, and they got me through several drafts of the book. I must admit...blondes DO have more fun. At least, I did until the roots grew in, and no chemical on earth would color them. Out came the dark brown Lady Clairol.
    Now, about that peach pie. I'll be over in two seconds. It looks delicious--yes, Teeny would approve. Your dishes are beautiful. Love the way you've mixed them. I'm delighted to know that you enjoyed reading about the Big Lots dishes. I use them every day. I'm so glad that your mother's glass bowl has found its way to you. It is so much more than glass...the stuff of memories. You've certainly created a fine birthday memory today. I am grateful to have a friend like you, Rett. Thank you for joining in the secret birthday surprise! xxoo

  13. What a fun post. Having read all of the MLW tributes today, I think I need to go back and reread her books. When I do read them, I generally lament the fact that I don't have any true characters in my life. So, I guess the character is just going to have to be me. Love the pie bird...and the pie!

  14. Rett, I'll confess that I was a bit slow getting to Big Lots for the "famous" white dishes. They were long gone by the time I got there. But I do have the lovely chargers like yours. Wasn't the Vanilla Peach Coffee Cake fantastic? Your peach pie looks divine! It was fun joining you girls for MLW's birthday party!

  15. I've never even read one of her books. Where have I been, huh? Well, Happy Birthday to her anyway! You sure did a nice job of celebrating.....and that pie......YUM!

  16. A wonderful birthday tribute and such an amazing idea.

  17. Looks like a wonderful party.

    - The Tablescaper

  18. Great birthday tribute, and a beautiful tablescape. The pie looks great, and the reminiscing about the honoree was priceless. I know she was touched. :)

  19. Wow! That peach pie made me hungry just to look at the picture, Rett! Your tablescape is as beautiful as always and your photos are fabulous! Hugs, Karen

  20. I wouldn't mind having my birthday dinner at your table, and I'll not look down my nose at your Walmart dishes. Some of mine are from Goodwill!


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