A Vintage Garden Picnic in the Potting Shed

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

The Novel Bakers been busy packing picnic baskets and cooking up recipes for a couple of months now in anticipation of picnic week, from a host of books full of inspiration, delicious menus and theme picnics!

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I had some inspiration for a Vintage Garden Picnic from

A Perfect Day for a Picnic by Tori Finch.

A Perfect Day for a Picnic

“Chic country girl and gourmet Tori Finch understands the joy of a carefree picnic. There’s nothing like eating outdoors to capture your sense of adventure, and add a flair to the food – whether you are entertaining a relaxed crowd of friends and family or preparing a romantic feast for two. Hop on your vintage bike to work up an appetite, hit the beach for a cook-out, or host a teddy bears picnic for little ones; these all feature within Tori’s 10 themed menus, each complete with recipes for savoury and sweet dishes, as well as drinks. On a balmy summers eve, hang paper lanterns from trees and serve Asian-inspired food in the Indochine picnic, or lay luxurious rugs and evoke a sense of the middle east with a meze platter and spiced citrus couscous for the Bohemian picnic. Warm up during an autumn walk in the woods with a thermos of spiced squash soup and slabs of zingy ginger cake, or dream of sunnier climes with a Provençal -inspired feast. Whatever the occasion, A Perfect Day for a Picnic is your guide to enjoying the outdoors life.”

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This is a photo heavy post for me even after much editing! For optimal viewing, WordPress blogs function and load best with Chrome or Firefox as your browser.

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Our weather has been unpredictable lately for picnicking, so I scratched my plans for an alfresco dining in a garden setting and moved inside the Potting Shed for a Vintage Garden Picnic.

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And where I could still find some flowers to picnic with.

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 I picked some Garden Bouquets for this indoor picnic and filled some Ball jars.

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Some Black-eyed Susan, Queen Anne’s Lace and Lespedeza with its wispy purple blooms.

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Blooming napkin rings & napkins were toted in a vintage picnic basket.

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Along with a floral flatware bouquet.

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I deviated from the menu provided for a Vintage Garden Picnic following some guidelines:

“The most wonderful thing about picnicking is there are few rules, you can go as wild or as tame as you like. Either way, just packing a hamper full of things you have made to share with the people whose company you most enjoy is delicious in itself and if you stick to a theme and use savvy ways to transport and present your picnic, it needn’t be a headache.”

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Help yourself to a wheelbarrow of veggies and dip!

(Note: the bell pepper and carrots are not radioactive, despite their color :)

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Dip is served in a hollowed out cabbage for a garden fresh bowl, filled with a Ranch Veggie Dip.

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Vintage-inspired seed packets, reproduced as post cards, are on display with their colorful graphics and a flower frog.

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Postcards are from Cavallini & Co. Farmer’s Market collection and Garden Variety Flowers, available here.

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Terra-cotta pots are lined with lettuce leaves for serving a summer chicken salad with peaches, basil, toasted pecans and a touch of honey.

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A few blackberries and basil leaves garnish the pots, served with a blooming fork!

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Sweet Summer Chicken Salad, recipe adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup minced sweet onion (or half a shallot for a milder flavor)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

4 small fresh, firm, ripe peaches, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons honey

Garnishes: fresh basil, fresh blackberries

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 15 minutes).

Stir together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Fold in pecans, chicken, and peaches; cover and chill 2 hours. Garnish, if desired.

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 You can find a printable recipe, here.

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For dessert help yourself to Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes! The addition of zucchini makes the cupcakes moist and gives you an excuse to eat your veggies :)

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Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes are garnished with zucchini strands and some violas that volunteered and were blooming to my surprise in a pot in the shade despite the summer heat.

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I found this fun Veggetti Spiral vegetable cutter at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It’s ideal for making quick zucchini and veggie noodles and is more compact and affordable than a fancy spiralizer.

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Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes,

adapted from Taste of Home

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients

1-1/4 cups butter, softened

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 oz. container plain yogurt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

2 cups grated zucchini

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In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with yogurt, beating well after each addition. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.

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Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

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Frost with your favorite chocolate or cream cheese frosting and garnish if desired with edible flowers and/or zucchini strands. If using zucchini strands, drain first on paper towels and add them to the cupcakes right before serving to prevent the moisture from the zucchini to weep onto the frosting.

You can find a printable recipe here.

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Floral ice cube inspiration came from Garden Week with The Novel Bakers and An Invitation to the Garden. Michael Lee made floral ice cubes for her Lanterns in the Garden Party.

Edible Flower Ice Cubes

 I picked my violas back at the beginning of June for this batch of floral ice cubes before they succumbed to the heat, along with some dianthus.

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To make floral ice cubes, use only edible flowers that are pesticide free.

For clearer ice cubes you can use distilled water. Add a thin layer of water in the bottom of your ice trays. Top with a rinsed, edible flower and freeze. When frozen, add more water, and top with another flower or petals if desired. Return to freezer.

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 I picked up some Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade, from World Market, a fermented botanical lemonade, infused with ginger and pure rose extract giving it a pink color and ideal for a garden picnic!

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“This book is a tribute to the picnic in all forms, be it a family day at the beach, a trip out in the car to your favorite wild spot with a flask of tea and a hunk of cake, or a cheerful children’s party. A picnic is one of life’s simple pleasures — they are about relaxing in the great outdoors. . .Mostly, they are a way of appreciating the good things in life.”

“Live. Love. Picnic.”

Vintage Garden Picnic

Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Novel Bakers Picnic Week

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

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Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

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  40 comments for “A Vintage Garden Picnic in the Potting Shed

  1. Lynn@Happier Than A Pig In Mud
    September 8, 2014 at 6:11 am

    Looks like you spent a magical day in the potting shed Mary! Everything is beautiful and once again I’m drawn to the pretty napkins and napkin rings. I thought about that zucchini cutter but after my mandolin incident decided to leave it on the shelf for you to play with:@) Have a great week!

  2. September 8, 2014 at 6:51 am

    Beautiful, I love it!!!

  3. September 8, 2014 at 7:11 am

    Good Morning, I’m looking out to my meadow, and it’s a bit rainy, this morning, I’m inspired to have a rainy day picnic on my porch, it’s cool enough here in SC, something that I haven’t done in awhile. Thanks for the inspiration. Looking forward to your next post.

  4. September 8, 2014 at 7:22 am

    I will be able to enjoy all this, and more this fall in Florida. Still in Maine until October 1st.
    Have a great week.🌴

  5. September 8, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Hi Mary! I would love to picnic in your garden shed! From the flatware bouquet to the floral ice cubes you have added so many special touches. And what a great way to get our daily veggie dose, from (not) radioactive peppers in ranch sauce to zucchini hidden in chocolate! Yum! And I never turn down anything with pecans so your chicken salad would make a wonderful picnic lunch. This was one of my favorite of the picnic cookbooks and I used it several times. When I saw the vintage garden picnic I thought it would be perfect for you! I’m looking forward to seeing more of your picnics this week!

  6. Lynn R
    September 8, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Oh my this is so pretty. I love the display of the dishes and the seed packets and the toile trays. Also the cupcakes look so cute displayed on top of the overturned tea cups.

  7. September 8, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Mary, your details are ALL so carefully thought out and meticulously put together – it is simply outstanding. Beautiful. Thank you.

  8. Melissa Smith
    September 8, 2014 at 8:00 am

    I would love to be in that adorable potting shed for a picnic. Beautiful Beautiful picnic!!!!

  9. September 8, 2014 at 8:53 am

    What a fabulous post Mary! You must work all week on a table because every detail just thrills and amazes. I love your potting shed and all of your accoutrements! In addition to a feast for the eyes, you have a feast for the palate going on too! That picnic book sounds like it is right up my alley.
    I just made chocolate zucchini cake this week for a garden class and need to make another as 2 9×13 pans disappeared so quickly! The way you displayed your cupcakes is fabulous! As usual, I can’t praise your post enough!

  10. Peggy Thal
    September 8, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Everything is so beautiful! I love all your special touches. You do not miss any detail. Great china, beautiful food and all the pretty flowers. Thank you .

  11. September 8, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Wow, I want to picnic in your potting shed, Mary! All the ideas are fun. I love the terre cotta pots planted with chicken salad and blooming a floral fork. The cupcakes on overturned teacups look delightful, and then when finished, a cuppa tea is in order! I’ve been wavering on a spiralizer and I’m happy to know that you found a more affordable alternative. Those floral ice cubes are soooo pretty. Cheers to a wonderful picnic!!

  12. September 8, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Oh Mary, from potted peachy chicken salad to zucchini garnished chocolate cupcakes on a teacup and blooming ice cubes, there is nothing you didn’t think of for your picnic in the potting shed! As usual, I could spend all day gazing at your photos and discovering all the details and surprises you always tuck in~the books all look so intriguing, and I enjoyed the simple philosophies of the “perfect picnic,” enjoying the company and surroundings with food shared with love…oh, and could you please roll that wheel barrel of veggie delight over to my house this afternoon?
    Jenna

  13. September 8, 2014 at 9:37 am

    i am so excited to get back to your blog, i have loads of catching up to do and i cleared my morning JUST so i could hang out online and take in all the fun and merriment! lets pray my bandwidth holds for the week…

    i am squealing on the first pic, i just love how we all read and see the same things, but how different the boundless creative eye can travel. i am also VERY jealous of the gorgeous array of baskets you have, naturally you have me quaking in my boots at what dazzling future picnics you will be sharing to my slim pickins!

    i loved a perfect day for a picnic, she had the cutest parties! nothing can rival your potting shed though… so fun watching you play away… so heartbreaking that i have not been in a garden for 4 months! i just have to live through you!

    your wheelbarrow stuffed with the days harvest is pure art… love the salad tucked in their pots, who knew getting your daily veggies could be so cute!

    OMG on the freakin cupcake tray… call me green with garden envy… to help me get by i will just wash down a platter of chocolate cupcakes to lick my wounds of thy shall not covet. they are healthy right, i am still eatting veggies despite the very faux appearance of a mouthwatering dessert ;-) your curls are beyond adorable, they remind of a pigs curly q tail since i am hear to scarf them all up! i think i need to find that little device next… you always cost me girl!

    your refreshing iced flowers are just dazzling to my color starves eyes… the rose lemonade is perfect pairing!

    DANG THIS WAS A FUN KICK OFF! i feel refreshed yet strangely craving chocolate this morn, here here to picnic week, let the fun and envy begin!

  14. September 8, 2014 at 9:40 am

    I agree with Jacqueline, I can’t praise ANY of your posts enough! I also WANT that gorgeous bird tray!!!!!!!!!! Where did you find it? It looks heavy enough to use here on our WINDY patio!!! You have my mouth watering for that chicken salad and the CUPCAKES!!! It is all spectacular.

    • September 8, 2014 at 9:54 am

      Thanks Pinky! The bird tray came from HomeGoods several months ago :)

  15. Patti
    September 8, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Beautiful ~ every last little detail!

  16. September 8, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Oh my! So Beautiful! I love all your little touches….hollowed out cabbage, cupcakes placed on tea cups. Simply Beautiful. Thanks for sharing the recipes also!

    Sandi

  17. September 8, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Mary, Mary, MARY!!!! What a delightful display…so Perfect in every detail. The cuppies look darling sitting on the upturned cups…very creative. Thanks for all the yummy sounding recipes, too.
    I just love it when I see an email showing that you’ve posted another fabulous creation. You never fail to impress & inspire!!!

  18. Dore'l Smith
    September 8, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    This is stunning. I’m in a tea party group of 5 ladies. We’ve been doing R teas/brunch for 12 years. I always do a theme tea of some sort. I LOVE tne idea of a picnic brunch. Your pics R gorgeous. I will have 2 do a “picnic brunch” next spring or summer. U R one of my fav blogs. U inspire me !!

  19. linda kemp
    September 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    You are amazing! I went through several times to take it all in. Where did you get those darlling napkins and napkin rings? I ordered the postcards…flowers and veggies. This was a perfect way to start my day.

    • September 8, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      Thanks Linda! The napkin rings came from a consignment store and the napkins from Pottery Barn several years ago :)

  20. September 8, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Oh my oh my what a beautiful post. Everything is terrific and now I am really hungry. You really outdid yourself on this post. Thank you so very much for this wonderful post.
    Mary

  21. Pam Greer
    September 8, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Oh my goodness! Such a beautiful post!! I loved every single thing! I think my favorite is those edible flower ice cubes!!! Love, love, love!!!

  22. September 8, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Oh my gosh – I don’t know where to start ?
    That I’ve scrolled up and down 3 times to capture every photo?
    That I’m about to go pin crazy as soon as I leave my comment?
    That your potting shed is what my dreams are made of?
    GORGEOUS !!!
    All of it, simply gorgeous !
    Thanks so much for sharing – visiting from A Stroll thru Life
    Hugs from Montreal
    Suzan

  23. September 9, 2014 at 12:45 am

    I really can’t say it better than Suzan’s comment above, except maybe holy crap this is a book in itself.

    Just wow – you wow me, always have but this just grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me silly.

    Whew, very very VERY well done, my dear.

  24. September 9, 2014 at 1:28 am

    Mary I have never seen cupcakes displayed like this wow what a beautiful creative way to pretty to eat I just want to stare at them all day. LOve all you do in and with your potting shed. It must be so much fun to be that creative in this space.Susie

  25. September 9, 2014 at 2:37 am

    Photo heavy posts from you are just icing on the cake! Wow, I want to picnic in your shed. Everything looks delicious and beautiful. Love the wonderful bird tray! And those chocolate cupcakes are truly calling out to me. My stomach is talking as I type. ‘-)

  26. September 9, 2014 at 7:54 am

    Mary,
    I am so glad that I found you last week. I absolutely loved your beautiful picnic post today. I wish I lived next door to you….what a treat that would be! Everything looks so beautiful and delicious! Have a wonderful day!

  27. Carolyn
    September 9, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Oh, my goodness, Mary! Another over-the-top=gorgeous photo blog! I love everything…& I’m gonna try the delicious chocolate zucchini cupcakes now that the weather is cooler! Thanks sooo much, once again.

  28. September 9, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Applause, applause, applause! Wow, Mary…this is beautiful! Not too many pictures for me at all! I enjoyed every one of them! Inside or out, this picnic is the one to beat!

    Thanks for the info on the spiral thingy. I’ve wanted one, but didn’t want to invest in a large apparatus. This looks like something that could just go into the utensil drawer with no problem. I’m trying to come up with different ways to bring veggies to the table, and spiraling them is one way to go that’s fun!

    I love the flower ice cubes! Pinned that one! I didn’t know violas would blow away and volunteer. Nice bonus!

    Gorgeous on all counts!

  29. September 9, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Oh, my….I join Alycia in a standing ovation…. I can see why it would be hard to edit pics …but believe me…not enough!

    How fun….I am in picnic mode and we’re planing one at our local winery for the near future…

  30. paula
    September 9, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    ~Mary~
    Awwwwww , this is lovely just lovely !! Can I be your new best friend. at the next tea party :) ??!!!

    Paula
    IN

  31. September 10, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Well, I am happy for the inclement weather as I love anything you create in the garden shed!!!….You are amazing…your styling impeccable…from placing those cupcakes on the inverted cups to the floral ice cubes…you do not miss a beat!…I could just pull up a stool to the bench and enjoy the lunch and the view of the outdoors and the gorgeous surroundings of the shed….you hit is out of the park/shed again!!!

  32. Nancy Carlson
    September 12, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Hi Mary,
    Could you please tell me (if you remember)
    where you got your straws? I have never
    seen any with flowers.
    You’re sooo talented..

    • September 13, 2014 at 5:03 am

      Thanks Nancy! You can find the garden flower straws here. :)

  33. November 28, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    I adore your blog and this is my all time favorite post. You really should have your own magazine. Every picture is just drool worthy.

  34. Susie
    June 8, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    What a beautiful post! You have made my day. I have the same Garden Bouquet dishes that were my grandmothers. I have always loved them, even as a little girl, and you have proven with your lovely displays that they are timeless. Your beautiful pictures of the picnic settings and flowers with the Garden Bouquet dishes make me smile. Oh how I wish I could have one more picnic with Grandma!! Maybe in heaven. =)

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