Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Tea Swap items for Lavender Cottage


Since September is National Sewing Month,

I thought I would share with you some of my most recent projects.

Beth, author of the blog

Beyond The Garden Gate

held a Tea Swap earlier in the year.

I used my embroidery machine to make several items for Judith,

my swap partner, who has the blog

Lavender Cottage


I made her a mug mat with a teapot on it, of course!

I monogrammed a hemstitched linen towel with their last name initial of "R".


I made her the little teabag holder, below, with her first name on it.

This is to hold a teabag & either a packet of sugar or artificial sweetener in your purse.

Its amazing how many times I visit some people who don't drink tea &

don't have any on hand to offer, either.



Below is a list of all the things that I included in her swap box:

Mighty Leaf tea & assorted others to try
Quilted Mug Mat for her teacup & some cookies
Ceramic treasure box with tea party top (holds chocolate)
R-L-C game for grandchildren
Teapot pin
Teapot spout covers to catch drips
Magnetic Refrigerator list with Lavender Teapot
Matching Lavender Teapot notebook
Lace Angel
Monogrammed hemstitched linen hand towel
Pansy coaster made on embroidery machine
Teabag & sweetener holder for purse with her name "Judith", made on embroidery machine
Hand stamped bookmark with butterflies...her favorite!
A Little Cup of Tea book
Shamrock cutter for scones

Thank goodness I didn't put in anything perishable,

as the Canadian postal service went on strike just as I mailed it &

she had to wait WEEKS for it to arrive!

We were BOTH very relieved when it finally got to her.

I held off showing you what I made, so as not to spoil the surprise.

This was a fun swap & I hope to join more of them soon.

Thanks for stopping by The Gazebo House & letting me share my stuff.

Its no fun unless you can share it with others!



I'll be joining The Tablescaper for her

Seasonal Sundays meme.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Salad with Strawberries & Warm Bacon Salad Dressing ♪♫


This was a delicious salad,

inspired by one that I saw on Mari's blog

Once Upon A Plate.


I did a few things differently, based on what I had in the house.
I used a mix of salad greens instead of just spinach alone &

I added slivered almonds instead of pine nuts.


Mari's recipe for the warm bacon dressing can be found HERE.

I substituted Splenda® Brown Sugar for half the

regular brown sugar called for in her recipe.

It was still pretty sweet & if I make it again,

I think I'll cut back even more on the sweeteners.

It was VERY good, just a titch too sweet for us.


I'll be joining Yvonne, from StoneGable for

On The Menu Monday

The Tablescaper for

Seasonal Sundays &

and Michael Lee from Designs by Gollum for

Foodie Friday.

Thank you, Ladies, for holding these parties where we get to share our cooking adventures.

Thanks for visiting The Gazebo House, too.

I've been a bit quiet while my desktop computer
was in for removal of a "redirect virus".
I have no idea how it go through,
as I have Microsoft Security Essentials
updated & running at all times.
*sigh* 'em & hate 'em.

Prayers going out to all those affected by
Hurricane Irene.
I truly feel for all of you!
I'm having PTSD anxiety, just thinking
about all you have ahead of you.

Hurricane Charlie, in FL was the last straw that
sent us back home to Ohio.
Well, that & the birth of sweet little Ms. C!!

Hard to believe this was taken just 6 short years ago!

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Portrait Quilt from MamaCJT

I couldn't believe my eyes when I opened a package this weekend from my friend,
Carol...aka MamaCJT.

She told me "something" was on its way to me, but I never,
in my wildest dreams, could have imagined it would be THIS:

She captured all my favorites & features beautifully in this mini-quilt.
My naturally curly BLONDE hair, my BLUE eyes, my love of RED lipstick &
polka-dot dishes along with some LIME GREEN & WHITE ones.

She even paid homage to my nursing career with that cap
as well as my fondness for sewing...
check out the real button earrings & the textured floss for thread.
She even knew that I wear BLACK often...(its slimming, ya' know!)

I have her hung right next to my polka-dot items on the bakers rack in the kitchen.

She's staying there until everyone in the family visits & gets to see her,
then I maybe will let her come stay with me in the sewing room.

I don't know, though, because I smile whenever I walk past her.
Lord knows, I've been spending more time in the kitchen
than in the sewing room lately, too.

Be sure to hop over to Carols cute blog to see the
process she goes through as she
made this & other wonderful portrait mini-quilts.

She is doing a mini series of ladies faces in quilts.
She is an amazing talent with more creativity in her
pinky finger than I'll ever have in my lifetime!

Thank you, Carol, from the bottom of my !

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Deep, Dark, Decadent "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

DSC_0230 cropped

DSC_0234 cropped

Deep, Dark, Decadent "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake


Mint Chocolate Glaze

This is my variation of the famous HERSHEY'S

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

Recipe can be found HERE.


I melted Andes chocolate mint squares & added them to some Hershey's

chocolate syrup to drizzle on top.

My drizzles kind of puddled...I need lots more practice!

I have been reading Lou Manna's FABULOUS book, Digital Food Photography

& I can't begin to tell you how much I have learned in just the past few days.

This is an incredible resource for anyone who loves to take photos of their food.

Excerpt taken from Lou Manna's bio:

Lou Manna is an award winning Olympus Visionary photographer whose work has appeared in national ad campaigns, major magazines, and more than forty books. After shooting for the New York Times from 1975 to 1990, he went on to establish his own Fifth Avenue studio, where he works with corporate, advertising and public relations clients to create photos that can only be described as "exquisite". He has a sense of style, color and composition with an inherent sense of beauty.

Lou recently authored his first book, Digital Food Photography, the only book on the art of food photography devoted exclusively to digital technology. He is currently writing another book and teaching digital food photography workshops and private hands on classes in his studio. View Lou's work at


Following his tips,

I tried to capture the glow of this one lone Rainier cherry.

I used the little white plate with the curved edges to echo the luscious curves of the fruit.

Oh, I have SOOOO much yet to learn!

To see some other people who love to photograph their food,

please go visit the following parties I'm linking to:

Yvonne at StoneGable for her

On The Menu Monday

Michael Lee at Designs by Gollum for her

Foodie Friday


The Tablescaper for her

Seasonal Sundays

Thank you, Ladies for hosting such fun parties each week


Thank YOU for visiting The Gazebo House.

You're welcome to stop by anytime.

Somebody come help us eat up all this cake, PLEASE???



Sunday, August 14, 2011

Avocado Salad-Topped Steak Taco Bowls


Monday is Lynn's Celebrity Cook Along with Rachael Ray.

Be sure stop by Happier Than A Pig In Mud to see all the great Rachael Ray recipes that everyone has tried.

I doing these parties, because it makes me step out of my comfort zone & try new recipes.

I made Rachael's Avocado Salad-Topped Steak Tacos.

She put hers in taco shells but we find those difficult

to hold & eat without making a mess so I used taco bowls instead.


Kathleen, from Cuisine Kathleen made her own ruffled

taco bowls HERE


but I bought mine, preformed, in a box

BEFORE I even saw hers.

I just want you to know I didn't COPY her idea! LOL

Are you kidding me???

I never would have even thought of trying to make my own.


Printable recipe can be found HERE.

I'll also be joining Yvonne at StoneGable for her

On The Menu Monday

Michael Lee at Designs by Gollum for her

Foodie Friday


The Tablescaper for her

Seasonal Sundays

Thank you, Ladies for hosting such fun parties each week


Thank YOU for visiting The Gazebo House.

You're welcome to stop by anytime.



Monday, August 08, 2011

"Tables For Two" Party Coming Up!


Last month, I made the statement in my

tea party post HERE

"you can never have too many polka-dots".

Dear sweet & VERY knowledgeable Cherry Kay,

owner of the beautiful blog, Entertaining Women

commented on that post, telling me that Tuesday Morning

had some pretty Waterford "Ballet Dot" tablecloths.


I went shopping the next day & was so disappointed

that my TM only had the napkins, not the tablecloths.

I emailed Cherry Kay & she

very generously offered to go check two of her TM's.

We exchanged phone numbers &

called each other back & forth as she shopped.

She found herself some matching napkins &

the same BEAUTIFUL tablecloth &

several sets of napkins for me.

We had such fun, working on that together

that we decided to do joint tablescapes,

using our matching tablecloths.

Thus began the idea for a meme, titled

"Tables For Two".


Surprisingly & unbeknownst to each other,

we both decided to use our Blue Willow china for the tables!

Great minds on the same track!

She has waaaaaay more of it than I do.

Unknowingly, we also both used hydrangeas in our centerpieces as well.

I'm telling you, we were on the same wave length all week.

~~cue the Twilight Zone music~~


Can you believe my Lilac tree is blooming

AGAIN at this time of year???

Strange behavior but I’m loving it... they smell soooo wonderful.


I set up my Johnson Brothers Blue Willow cups & saucers,

along with dessert plates &

the teapot, sugar & creamer on my side table.


This tea caddy was a gift from my step-daughters one Christmas.

Its from the Bombay Company, a store that we all sadly miss.

I think Shelia over at Note Songs has the same one!

(Today is her Roosters & Chickens party,

which I totally spaced on...sorry, Shelia!)



These newly purchased "His & Hers" crowned teaspoons

were also found on my trip to Tuesday Morning.

I'll CRY if that store ever closes!




You can really see the glint of the polka-dots in these photos.

The fabric is a very nicely weighted cotton & poly & irons beautifully!


I added some silver pieces to help echo & reflect the light.

This Oneida Ridgewood oval gallery tray, below

was also a gift from the kids.


It is the perfect size to hold bread or rolls or in this case, croissants.



I chose to use my American Harmony flatware with this tablescape,

as I felt the beading echoed the pattern around the silver chargers nicely.


Stacked plates from the bottom up are:

Pier One (dark blue),

Spode Blue Willow dinner plate,

white salad plates are American Atelier Bianca Leaf &

the cobalt blue ones on the top were thrift store finds last year.


Of course, the after dinner treats had to match, too!

Did I ever tell you how much I ♥♥♥ Dove chocolates???

(preferably frozen)





I added some accent pieces for extra candle light.

I've always got my eye out for blue & white accessories, since they all play together so well.



In fact, I just bought a Coleport decanter on Ebay,

exactly like the ones Cherry Kay has used on her table today.

She has so many wonderful tips on how to find the best bargains!





It was such fun to chat back & forth

as we planned this joint venture.

Cherry Kay & I thought it might be fun to do a party or meme

where people could pick a partner & they

would work together on tablescapes that reflected their similar collections.

It wouldn't be exact, as ours certainly aren't

but they are along the same lines.

Most of us know of another blogger who has the same dishes

or crystal or flatware that we do.


I know Ceekay, author of the blog Thinkin’ of Home &

I have the same everyday dishes &

several other gals have some PINK & GREEN depression glass, like I do.

I've never hosted a linky party but its about time I learned!

We're thinking we should hold it in the fall.

This would give folks time to contact a partner & plan their tables.

Go visit Cherry Kay & see how she used her GORGEOUS collection of Burleigh Blue Willow

as well as her Coalport Kings Ware on her pretty new tablecloth.

This gal really knows her china, let me tell you!

I’ll be linking to Marty's blog A Stroll Thru Life for Tabletop Tuesday,

Susan’s beautiful blog Between Naps On The Porch

for "Tablescape Thursday"

as well as The Tablescapers "Seasonal Sunday" fun meme &

Yvonne’s inspiring StoneGable for

"On The Menu Monday".

Thanks to all these ladies for hosting such fun & educational

parties week after week &

a VERY SPECIAL “Thank you” to my personal shopper, Cherry Kay!!



EDIT to answer Karen's question below:

There are several legends as to the origin of the Blue Willow pattern.

One is that there once was a wealthy Mandarin, who had a beautiful daughter (Koong-se). She had fallen in love with her father's humble accounting assistant (Chang), angering her father (it was inappropriate for them to marry due to their difference in social class). He dismissed the young man and built a high fence around his house to keep the lovers apart. The Mandarin was planning for his daughter to marry a powerful Duke. The Duke arrived by boat to claim his bride, bearing a box of jewels as a gift. The wedding was to take place on the day the blossom fell from the willow tree.

On the eve of the daughter's wedding to the Duke, the young accountant, disguised as a servant, slipped into the palace unnoticed. As the lovers escaped with the jewels, the alarm was raised. They ran over a bridge, chased by the Mandarin, whip in hand. They eventually escaped on the Duke's ship to the safety of a secluded island, where they lived happily for years. But one day, the Duke learned of their refuge. Hungry for revenge, he sent soldiers, who captured the lovers and put them to death. The Gods, moved by their plight, transformed the lovers into a pair of doves (possibly a later addition to the tale, since the birds do not appear on the earliest willow pattern plates). You can clearly see the doves on my tea set, above.

Info above found on Wikipdia.

There is a similar variation of this story found HERE.