Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Polka-Dots for Christmas in the Kitchen


I keep all my Christmas RED & GREEN colors here in the kitchen,

where the *grandkidlets* spend most of their visits with me.

The rest of my home is much more formal & done in soft creams with gold tones

for Christmas but the kitchen is all about FUN with the kids!


I made peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips as well as Nut Gem Cookies

(aka "Butterballs or Russian Tea Cakes"...recipe from book below)

The pedestal mugs are by Pfaltzgraff &

the little woven ceramic basket, holding lemon drops

was a gift from a sweet friend, long long ago.


The idea for LIME GREEN & RED polka-dots has just sort of evolved over this past year.
I found the 3 RED polka-dot plates at T.J. Maxx but
I didn't care if there were only 3.
I never hesitate to purchase an odd number like that.
I figured I could just use 2 plates for tea & cookies with Caroline
or perhaps for dessert with just hubby & I.
If one plate somehow was broken later on,
then I'd still have a back-up to complete a pair.
A few weeks later, I luckily found 3 of the LIME GREEN polka-dot plates,
same maker, at the same place.


So, now I could mix & match & have enough for 6 people.
Back in January at the clearance sales, I found the really

FUN & WHIMSICAL Department 56 cake cover with

the RED bow & LIME GREEN polka-dots.

Remember when Susan found hers? You can see it here Between Naps on the Porch

The cover was going on eBay for $50-$75. She found it at TJ Maxx for $19.95. I paid $10 after Christmas...shhhh, don't tell her!
I'm joining her Tablescape Thursday party today.


It fits perfectly on my Mikasa Christmas cake stand with matching server.


I wanted to include a review of this little book, Christmas Teas of Comfort and Joy,

by Emilie Barnes so I could join Jain's Food For Thought party on Saturday.

Jain is reading & cooking from all Christmas/Holiday themed books this month.

I've missed being a part of that wonderfully creative & well-read bunch!

christmas teas collage

Emilie Barnes is a new author to me & she has a whole series of wonderfully thoughtful &

inspiring little books, all with a tender, meaningful theme of some kind to them.


It is a very sweet & inspirational book with recipes for cookies &

Wassail punch as well as traditional tea party items such as cucumber &

watercress sandwiches included.

It would make a great stocking stuffer!

Nut Gem Cookies

1 Cup butter
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons rum extract (I used maple...I like that flavor better)
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Mix, chill & roll into small balls. Bake at 300º for 15 minutes.
Roll in powdered sugar after balls are slightly cooled.
Repeat the powdered sugar rolling if desired, just before serving.


She gives lots of suggestions on how to make your home

more special over the Christmas holiday season.


Speaking of special homes, I'd like to tell you the story of how I came to own this treasured Department 56 Gingerbread House.

My parents loved to attend flea markets together, once my Dad retired. They never spent much money on items they found. They just loved the fun of the hunt!

I doubt that my Mom paid more than $3 for this little gingerbread house, if even that much.

She gave it to me when my only child, a little daughter, was very young. (sweet Caroline's Mommy!)

For years, I put it out at Christmas, not even knowing what Department 56 was all about.

My DD grew up & married (sweet Caroline's Daddy!) & his family started giving my daughter Department 56 Christmas in the City houses each year as one of her Christmas gifts. Her collection has grown over the years & one day she was visiting & happened to pick up the little Gingerbread House to examine it closer. It had the Department 56 sticker on the bottom.

DD: "MOOOOMMMM, this is a Department 56 piece!!"

ME: "What's a 'Department 56' ?"

DD: "MOTHERRRR, don't you know anything about them?? This is a cherished collectible!"

A bit like Woody in the movie, Toy Story.

Well, it turns out, she was right! It is one of the original series in the Snow Village collection.

Worthpoint says "This Department 56 item is a bit of an original from most of the houses in the Snow Village collection. The Gingerbread House, item#50253, was issued in 1983 and retired in 1984. It depicts a house made of Gingerbread dripping in a multitude of confectionery delights. the roof is brown and has a heart made out of Candy Canes on each side, a bay window on one side of the house and cookies and candies covering both the front and the backside of the house."

I just know my Mom is smiling down from Heaven every year when I put it out on display!


Lots of other mementos complete the bakers rack shelves...little Lolly the Trolly favors from a party we attended one year, that included a tour of the Christmas lights in downtown Cleveland via the Lolly the Trolly cars . Looking back across Lake Erie towards the city lights from the west side of town is just spectacular!



Have you ever tried Lemon Drops in your tea for a sweet-tart touch of flavor?


Now for a sewing project...

I made this VERY EASY little table runner for the baker's rack last week.

The pattern is called Easy Striped Tablerunner ...

I know, I hear you laughing

"very original", huh?

It is by Karen Montgomery, available from

The Quilt Company & has only 5 seams.

You must use a border or striped fabric & a 60º triangle

to get that special effect of the stripes angling together at the ends.

Very specific & precise cutting methods required but after that it is simple assembly & quilting.

The top, prior to quilting, is shown below.

I forgot to get a picture of it after I quilted it...

I was so anxious to get things into place & the house decorated!


Since it has poinsettias on it, I'm joining Beth's Poinsettia Party on Sunday

at her beautiful Food as Art blog.

The party runs from Dec. 5th through the 15th, so you still have time to join in.


I hope you're enjoying some old fashioned holiday fun in your homes &

have some well-loved rituals & cherished collectibles

to help celebrate this most wonderful of seasons.

I'm joining in The Tablescapers "Seasonal Sundays* for the first time, too!


  1. Oh hon, you brought tears to my eyes with your story about the Dept 56 gingerbread house. Yes, your mama is smiling.

    And maybe chuckling because a lady in New Jersey is so sentimental about moms and daughters that she cries at sweet stories about them!

    I admire your discipline in keeping the rowdy reds and greens in your kitchen. I always have good intentions, but somehow those goofy Santas and candy canes and snowmen migrate all over the house!


  2. It looks like you and your grand kids are going to have a ball! Polka dots and all!!!

    It would be great to have you join Seasonal Sundays.

    - The Tablescaper

  3. Oh how I enjoyed this post Rett! FAbulous and fun polka dots. I love your theory about by odd numbers of dishes and look how perfectly that worked out for you. Everything is so charming and FUN! I too loved the story about the Dept. 56 gingerbread house. Such a sweet memory you have of your mother when you see the little house. :)


  4. Ah Rett, that was a perfect December post. I loved the story of the gingerbread house and all the photos from your kitchen. Your mother is, I'm sure, looking on you with pride and pleasure at the home you've created and the relationships you nurture.

  5. oh so many cute things my head is spinning! first i love dots... AND COOKIES... and BOOKS! wrap it all together and yippee, tis the season!

    what a darling book, i love the illustrations, it screams fun fun fun, which i can see you had!

    sweet story about your gingerbread house. i must try the lemon drops, i love them and its been ages!

    i am off to make my little pecan balls, you have pushed me over the edge, yes i was always teetering!

    loved your tea party, great kick off to the holidays, thank you for playing at food for thought :)

  6. I love the polka dots. I got a green and white polka dot soap dish shaped like a christmas light bulb w/soap on clearance at Tuesday Morning this year for .50cents. It was last years stuff! Woohoo. I love your cake cover and serving pieces too, but mostly your wonderful story of the gingerbread house! I love all the wonderful color in your beautiful photos!

  7. Love, love, love the polka dot plates!! Of course, I love, love, love red and lime together too. It's all I use for Christmas. I think a trip to TJ Maxx is in order!

  8. Love the story about the gingerbread house, it was so touching! And I love all your colorful dishes and kitchen decor! Your Christmas tree is just gorgeous!

    Happy holidays, My friend!


  9. This post was just pretty and more pretty. I loved the story about the Gingerbread House...of course I'm a sentimental fool about mother's these days.

    Love the polka dots...anytime of year and the Christmas look is just great!

  10. That's it. Break time is over. I'm heading BACK to my kitchen to keep working and try to make it half a cute and Christmasy as yours is.

    I love the story of the Dept. 56 Gingerbread house. You need to have your daughter give ALL of your stuff a once over.

    It's adorable even if it weren't valuable. Extra nice that it is.

  11. Polka dots make everything fun, the kids will love it! I'm lovin' the sequin tree next to your very special gingerbread house and the runner turned out great-enjoy:@)

  12. THis is my first visit, I found you through the Tablescaper! I just LOOVE all you beautiful things on your bakers rack! The story of the Gingerbread house is wonderful! I just started a blog so would love for you to come on over and maybe follow me! I will be following you now for sure!!!! XO, Pinky

  13. I love it all! I have a set of Hallmark plates and cups that also have polka dots, but some are snowflakes and stripes. I love them, and the bright colors. I will do a post one of these days. Your pictures are always so inspiring.

  14. Rett, This is a lovely post. I love your green and red polka dot plates, your gingerbread house and your Santa teapot. Thanks for the story about the Dept 56 collectibles, and also for showing the tea book. Great pictures - I know it's somethign I'd enjoy reading.
    Blessings, Beth

  15. Oh, Rett, this post is just full of holiday delights! Love the red and green and the polka dots and your cute Santas. But most of all I love the story of the gingerbread house.
    I know the grandkidlets love spending time with you in that fun kitchen. So would I! The book looks like a delight! Thanks for sharing your holiday rituals and collections. ~ Sarah

  16. What a wonderful, cheerful, holiday kitchen! I would love to spend the afternoon making cookies and candies with you and Caroline!

  17. Hi Rett,

    Hope you're feeling better! I'm glad you're well enough to share beautiful things, sweet stories, recipes, sewing projects, decorating tips, and so much more. I used to love lemon drops as a child, but I never thought of putting them in hot tea. I'll have to give it a try.

    Thank you for stopping by earlier. I always appreciate your thoughtful and generous comments.

    Take good care ....

  18. I love all you Christmas dishes. I know you are enjoying them every day! The tile tray on MAY DAYS was from Target years ago.

  19. Aunt Rett, I love your Mikasa Christmas cake stand-- very cool!

  20. Oops! I meant the Department 56 cake cover with the RED bow & LIME GREEN polka-dots! I thought it was one piece with the stand, but then re-read and realized they are two different things.

  21. i came back to oogle again, its just so much fun to slowly scroll down again :)

  22. Me, too! I couldn't stay away from this post filled with delights! I love polka dots, cookies, tea, . . . well, you get the picture! Every inch of this post is full of delights! ~ Sarah

  23. How fun this was! LOVE your Red & Green polka dots!! Kindred spirits, I never hesitate to buy 2 or 3 plates either :-) Such a cheery kitchen you have, the book looks adorable & looks perfect with your runner! Easy for you with only 5 seams, I am SEW NOT a seamstress. Love your treasured Dept. 56 GBread house, I have a few *ahem* houses myself. Loved my visit here, I'm inspired to redo my baker's rack with some houses add some cheer to my kitchen!

  24. Hi Rett,
    Thanks for visiting my blog. That's too bad about all being allergic to kitties. I am too. But love prevails!LOL! I just love my nutty Buddy.
    I'm sure your granddaughter will love this book. Better have kleenex handy if you are a softy. I cry every year when I read this.

  25. Hi it's me again! I love the polka dot dishes! And the gingerbread house is sweet with sweet memories attached.
    I did a tree in my family room with red and lime green this year. My grandson LOVES it. He keeps calling the snowmen "pumpkins"!
    Your photos are beautiful.

  26. I am so glad you came to visit from Jain's Food for Thought!!! And I LOVE your post!!!! The author you chose is wonderful. Her books sweet & the art work always stunning. And I have the very same Santa Tea Pot & 4 mugs with Santa hat covers (somehow in all the bringing stuff from storage one has gone missing????). Also, love the red/green dot plates! I too love to mix those colors. And I sooooooooo wanted to do the silver/gold theme this year but, the GRANDS are here & I decided to do it up in Candy/Cookies & Gingerbread. Come back to see some shots later in the week & you'll see that little Tea Pot (& the cookie jar). HUGS!

  27. I read your blog at work and couldn't comment. I can ready blogs, but won't let me comment. I guess they really don't want me doing that at work... are truly lucky with the Dept 56 house. I have three really old ones, hand written on bottom not stamped. Luckily I have three daughter's so they can each have one of the old ones. Your decorating is gorgeous.

  28. I love the polka dots. They are so cheerful and bright. I also buy plates in odd numbers and can usually find more on another trip to another store. If not they can blend in with what I already have. Great story about the gingerbread house.

  29. I love your kitchen collection. I have a whole box marked kitchen too. I am such a Dept. 56 fan and have spent a lot on them and a few years ago my married daughter figured out we could buy them on ebay! What fun we have had, especially being able to find retired pieces for a fraction of what they cost originally. What a fun story about your gingerbread house. I adore it.

    Oh, wait, I had to mention the polka dot plates and the beautiful red serving platter - envy worthy!! Have a wonderful Christmas. Thanks for bringing us into your kitchen.

  30. Rett, you have very lucky grandchildren to have a grandma who makes the holidays so special for them. Everything looks like a big Christmas hug. Thanks so much for sharing your Christmas Kitchen with us and also for the recommendation on the book. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  31. I just adore all the kiddie things you put together for them at Christmas. I have very few elements for our grandchildren to enjoy other than a couple of music box pieces.
    Cute story about the gingerbread house, what a treasure!
    The table runner is lovely, you are lucky you can sew; I have to buy everything.

  32. Hello Rett,
    thank you sooomuch for your visit and your sweet words. I don't know why I haven't been on your blog such a long time. But today I knew, I will come back soon. I really would love to be one of your grandchilds. Such a fun with all the nice treats and colors. Sweet story in the nicely illustrated book and lovely that your ginger house is such a treasure. All the things in your house are so lovely. And the runner is outstanding, what a clever idea to cut the fabric that way. I will remember that. Wish you a very merry Christmas time.
    Greetings, Johanna

  33. What a lovely post. I enjoyed my visit to your blog very much. Wishing you happiness. Merry Christmas. Hugs

  34. rett,
    I just love your blog -I feel like I can hear you telling the stories and I'm listening to every word!! What a sweet story about the dept 56 collection and your dtgs family carrying on the tradition with her. Someday your sweet gdtg will also enjoy.
    Blesings to you and your family ,

  35. Loved your display! Did you make the embroidered napkins? They are especially pretty.

  36. Thanks so much for being a part of Seasonal Sundays!

    - The Tablescaper

  37. Rett, I always love your blog but especially this Christmas post. The Nut Gem cookies look wonderful. I was wondering though what type flour to use--plain or self rising? thanks Judy

  38. Judy, I use bleached all-purpose flour for all my cookies/pie crusts/pancakes-waffles unless a recipe says otherwise. It has less protein & thus they will be lighter & fluffier.

    Be sure to spoon the flour into the measuring cup & sweep across the top to level. If you scoop with the measuring cup, you'll pack the flour & end up with more than intended.

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