Lemon Fondue


 This is my Foodie Friday contribution this week–a perfect solution for a quick and light dessert.




This is a great recipe for a shower or ladies luncheon.



Lemon Fondue


1 (11 ¼ ounce) jar lemon curd

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup half and half

garnish:   lemon zest


Combine first 3 ingredients in small bowl, stir well.

Spoon in Footed Serving Dish. Serve with Fresh Fruit, Gingersnaps,

Piroulline Cookies, Pound Cake Cubes.   Yield:  2 cups


 (I usually double this recipe to fill in my footed dish)








Some apple slices and dried apricots are also good with this.





 This is also yummy spooned over pound or angel food cake slices, served with fresh berries.













Be sure to visit Designs by Gollum for other Foodie Friday Favorites.


Portmeirion Botanic Garden


I’m joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.





I thought I would pretend Spring was already here, instead of early morning temperatures we’ve had lately in the 20 degree range.






This is my everyday pattern, Botanic Garden by Portmeirion. It’s available almost everywhere and I love it because there are so many different pieces and flowers.





It ‘s also very durable and practical. It’s dishwasher, microwave, freezer and oven safe.





The glasses are by Zrike, I only have four. I ran across them at Home Goods several years ago.




This was a five minute centerpiece…apples in a bowl with carnations.





Add some seed packets and some moss and it feels like spring is right around the corner.












I have to confess, I love the packaging on these seed packets, but I’m much too impatient to plant seeds.






These cookies I found about two weeks ago in Home Goods, I loved the packaging and thought they’d make great party favors.





















Head over to the Porch for more inspiring Tablescape ideas.



I’m joining Susan (and company!) at Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday.




This is a photo that I uploaded at Photofiddle. I ran across it in a gift guide in the avalanche of holiday catalogs and magazines I received back in November. I was so happy with the results, I thought I’d share! The process was fun and quick–and if you don’t know about it, you might like to try it for yourself. (I don’t have any financial incentive for sharing this.)






This is a photo of Chloe and Gracie. After you register (for free), you upload your photo and start “fiddling”. You can upload as many as 100 photos and they offer 50 plus styles of “art”. You can choose from Oil Paint Style, Watercolor, Collage, Deep Sponge Painting, etc.







This is how my “art” turned out in Impasto Style. I was thrilled with the results. You can view your style and change your photo/art style as many times as you want and save it in your library.





Here is a close up of my canvas so you can see the texture of Impasto Style.





This is a close up of Chloe’s face. She is my “problem” child…I think medication would be beneficial … for one or both of us :-)





Here’s a tip…once you register with your email and upload half a dozen photos and save them “fiddled”, you will start to receive email coupon offers, so you can wait for those before placing your order. 

I received my “art” within one week of ordering, shipped by FedEx.





Even if you never order, it’s fun to fiddle.

Head over to the Porch for more inspiring transformations…

Chasing Fireflies


 Chasing Fireflies  *****  by Charles Martin

I’m joining Jain with my edible book review at Food for Thought, where pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera. Books, Food & Photos, my three favorite things all in one place!

I LOVED  this book. It had all the elements that appeal to me: colorful characters, a vivid setting (coastal Georgia–Brunswick, to be specific), and a story with secrets to unfold.  The main character, Chase Walker, is a reporter assigned a story on an abused and abandoned boy. The abandonment is something that he has in common with the boy known as “Snoot”, or the state refers to him, “John Doe  #117”. Chase’s adopted parents, Willee and Lorna McFarland, his cousin Tommye, Uncle Willee’s brother, Jack,  all figure prominently in this story.


To us–those who seek the solace of the marsh–it is a stage where God paints–yellow in the morning, green toward noon, brownish in the afternoon, and blood red toward evening. It is the sentinel that stands guard at the ocean’s edge, protecting from the runoff that would kill it. It is selfless and sacrificial place. And when I close my eyes, it is also the smell of home.

Uncle Willie is a simple man who has suffered his own tragedies. He explains his source of wisdom: “Sometimes good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.” He shares his life’s lessons with both Chase and Snoot, while discussing fireflies, orchids, fishing and food. His food tastes run towards Yoo-Hoo, Moonpies, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Krystal Burgers.




Uncle Willee speaks his own language made up of one-liners that make sense mostly to him.

Uncle Willee-isms:

“they ate supper before they had grace” = moved in together, then got married

“Time to paint your butt white & run with the antelope” = do as you’re told

“You can put your boots in the oven, but that doesn’t make them biscuits” = you can say whatever you want about something, but that doesn’t change what it is

 “All hat and no cattle” = big talk but can’t back it up

Lots of fishing and boating scenes that appeal to me  :)


Men spend their lives asking Who am I? when the real question is Whose am I? I don’t think you can answer the first until you’ve settled the second. First horse, then cart. Identity does not grow out of action until it has taken root in belonging. The orchid speech taught me that.


‘Care for the roots, and the flower will bloom all on it’s own.’  Unc  then took a slender but strong bamboo shoot, about four feet long and slid it into the dirt along the stem of the orchid. Then he loosely tied the stem to the shoot.  ‘That’s to guide the stem. Otherwise it’ll bloom too much, and the weight of the blooms can break the stem.  So let it bloom all it wants, but give it something to lean on.’


This passage, about cooking the fish right after catching it on the boat, and serving it with cheese grits, had me running to one of my favorite cookbooks that is all about the coast and seafood…

It’s full of beautiful photos and spectacular recipes. I got sidetracked on the way to the seafood and couldn’t tear myself away from the recipe below.

 NO, I told myself, your book has nothing to do with a tomato tart!  Chase is preparing fish on his boat. He’s cooking grits… stay on task… find a fish recipe.

Well … my inner-self rationalized, he did SLICE a tomato…

So I succumbed…


 I did eventually find a cheese grits recipe.



I never got around to preparing any seafood. I just sighed and admired and got distracted by the beautiful photography and the promise of warmer weather.  Here are some examples from this cookbook to tempt your pallette …


 You take the bad with the good. Rise up through it. Live in the midst of it. It’s the bad that lets you know how good the good really is. Don’t let the bad leave you thinking there ain’t no good. There is, and lots of it too.

This is an exceptional story that about a man’s journey to find his identity and another man’s sacrifices for those he loves. Be sure to have some tissues handy…

La Cucina




La Cucina by Lily Prior **




I’m joining Jain in her bi-monthly edible book review at Food for Thought, where in her words, pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera. Books, Food & Photos, my three favorite things all in one place!



After finishing this book, I’m still uncertain how I feel about it. It was…Strange?  Parts were … Entertaining? I’m not sure. I hadn’t heard of this book, even though it was published ten years ago.  I stumbled on it in my search at PaperBack Swap, where I had some credits. Even though my to-be-read pile is toppling over, I’m always on the look out :-)


 I had read the following blurb from Publishers Weekly:


Sumptuously appointed, celebratory and sensuous, this début novel is a mouth-watering blend of commedia dell’arte and Greek tragedy. Prior cooks up a cinematic yarn full of characters so rich you’ll fear they’re fattening, but readers will be sure to splurge on this saucy tale chock full of sex, recipes and murder.


Sounds great, doesn’t it?






I really wanted to like this book, sadly I did not. The book jacket was beautiful, the reviews were promising, for me, the story was lacking.








Rosa Fiore grows up on the family farm in Sicilian village with eight brothers. La Cucina, or the kitchen, is her safe haven and an emotional outlet.




…  I retreated into the kitchen, in the same way that some women retreat into convents…

I had always loved my food: in those dark days it was all that could give me comfort.  I did not emerge from my self-imposed exile in la cucina for a long time.  I assuaged my grief by cooking, and cooking, and cooking some more.  





 When tragedy strikes, she leaves everything behind and heads to the big city of Palermo and becomes a librarian.  Her self-imposed exile from her family, village, and la cucina lasts twenty-five years. There in her library, she meets a mysterious stranger, l’Inglese, researching Sicilian cuisine. Rosa agrees to teach him what she knows, starting first with shopping at a market.






The mention of the market with the foods stalls reminded me of la Bourqueria in Barcelona, where we were fortunate enough to visit last spring.







 Wild strawberries, cherries, oranges and lemons, quinces and melons were all subject to my scrutiny.









L’ Inglese awakens Rosa’s passions, culinary and otherwise :-) 

 They spend the summer together until l’Inglese suddenly disappears. Events transpire causing Rosa to return to her family home.





There are obviously tons of mouth-watering food vignettes in this book…I thought I’d share an easy Focaccia Bread Recipe.


Focaccia Bread Recipe









 This book read like a black comedy, which is not my cup of tea.



 The Free Dictionary defines a black comedy as:  a comedy that treats of morbid, tragic, gloomy, or grotesque situations as a major element of the plot. 


Here’s a perfect example:


 When Rosa’s grandfather dies, he is laid out on the kitchen table according to tradition.  Rosa cooks chickpea fritters and feeds the corpse in hopes of reviving him:


 “Nonno Fiore was buried with the grease still clinging to his whiskers, his toothless mouth bulging with food.”




Warning…Animals do not fare well in this book…


“It lay for a long time in the gutter with its four little stiffened legs pointing up until someone threw it into a trash can.”





 … including Rosa’s parrot.



Lots of scenes about slaughtering pigs and other livestock in graphic detail…




Reading the reviews on Amazon, it’s obvious I’m in the minority. While the food excerpts were enjoyable, the story didn’t do it for me.  I’m glad I “swapped” this book instead of buying it.



Ain’t She Sweet?



Ain’t She Sweet? ****.* by Susan Elizabeth Phillips




I’m joining Jain with my edible book review at Food for Thought~ where pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera.



This is one of my favorite books of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, but not her most recent. I also listened to the audio version in addition to reading it. Kate Fleming (who also recorded under the name Anna Fields), is one of my favorite narrators and her accents made listening to this book highly entertaining. She did a GREAT British accent for the character of Colin Byrne.



 I thought this would be a timely review given the title, referring to the main character, Sugar Beth Carey.






And No. She Ain’t.



Rich. Spoiled. Beautiful. Conniving…Fifteen years ago.


Now, she’s returning to Parrish, Mississippi…Broke. Tough. Determined. Desperate and too proud to show it.




The citizens of Parrish still remember the abandoned friendships, broken hearts, and reputations she destroyed…and no one is willing to forgive and forget. Least of all, Colin Byrne, the teacher whose career Sugar Beth attempted to ruin.


  Colin Byrne:


“He’d use phrases like ‘bloody awful’ and ‘don’t muck about’, and just once, ‘feeling a bit dicky, are we?’ The first week of school they’d spotted him using a tortoiseshell cigarette holder. When he’d overheard some of the boys whispering that he was queer, he’d gazed down his long nose at them and said he regarded that as a compliment, since so many of the world’s greatest men had been homosexual. “Alas,” he’d told them, “I’ve been sentenced to a life of mundane heterosexuality. I can only hope a few of you will be more fortunate.”





Returning to Parrish, Sugar Beth discovers that her former teacher is not only a rich and published author, he is the owner of her former home, Frenchman’s Bride. With financial obligations and unable to find a job, Sugar Beth takes a job as Colin’s housekeeper, where he hopes to exact his revenge.





In addition to Colin, Sugar Beth’s former friends, the Seawillows are biding their time, choosing their plan of attack– especially Winnie Davis, who Sugar Beth took particular delight in tormenting in school.



Shortly after Sugar Beth’s return, Colin’s sequel to his best-seller comes out. Who should star in it but Sugar Beth herself? The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. . .



“In 1986, I was 22 years old and Parrish was my nirvana. The townspeople accepted my oddness, my staggering shortcomings in the classroom, my strange accent and haughty pretensions. I was writing a novel, and Mississippi loves a writer more than anyone else. I felt accepted for the first time in my life. I was completely, blissfully, happy… until my Southern Eden was destroyed by a girl named Valentine. . .”




The Seawillows emergency meetings generally call for vodka, cranberry juice and chocolate. . .








 With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I took a page from the Sea Willows’ handbook and found a recipe for a Valentini:


  • 2 oz.Vodka

  • 1 oz. Raspberry Schnapps

  • Top with Cranberry Juice



 I LOVED the dialogue between these characters~


Sugar Beth eyed Colin’s dark trousers and long-sleeved grape-colored shirt:


“If only I hadn’t sent your dueling pistols to the cleaners.”



As one might expect, Sugar Beth finds redemption, and Colin discovers that revenge ain’t nearly so sweet…



Visit Food for Thought & see what everyone is reading and eating~



Red Velvet Cupcakes


This is my contribution to Foodie Friday this week.






I ran across this mix at Sur La Table and couldn’t pass it up!

Conflicting information and urban legends abound on the origin of Red Velvet Cake, but no one disputes its beautiful red color.





The package directions said it made 10 cupcakes, but I easily got 12 out of the box




In addition to the box mix, you need 2 eggs, water, 2 sticks of butter (6 Tablespoons for the batter & 6 Tablespoons for the icing) and 8 oz. of cream cheese.



Of course, this is not my favorite kind of cupcake…









THIS is my favorite kind of cupcake



Here’s hoping there is some sort of cupcake in your future this Valentine’s weekend…

Be sure to visit Designs by Gollum for other Foodie Friday Favorites!

Limoges for Valentine’s Day


I’m participating in Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch





This is more of a tribute to this Limoges China (and my Great Aunt) than a tablescape…which seemed appropriate with Valentine’s Day around the corner. My Great Aunt’s china has been squirreled away in a cabinet in my dining room. This hasn’t seen the light of day in years, so I thought it was only fitting to pull it out and let it breathe





It is marked Avenir Limoges France. It is dainty and pink and fragile. There were twelve place settings once upon time. Probably 80% of this is still intact, without chips or cracks. 




Confession time:  I am a Pack Rat. Yes, admitting it is the first step towards recovery :-)



I am more of a RED kinda girl. My tastes lean more toward Italian Pottery, like Vietri.


Even though this is not my taste, and I have yet to use it, I can’t seem to bring myself to donate it. Yes, I know that is what I should do, maybe I will some day soon…*sigh*





Here are some fun Valentine’s Day facts…The per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2005 was 25.7 pounds.





 The cup & saucer are under a cloche here. Everything looks special under a cloche, (even M&M’s!), don’t you think?





 These little wedding cookies look particularly tasty on this plate…





“Chocolate is cheaper than therapy and you don’t need an appointment.”
— Catherine Aitken





“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” –Charles M. Schultz




Don’t you just love chocolate covered fruit?? 





The tradition of Valentine’s cards did not become widespread in the United States until the 1850s, when Esther A. Howland, a Mount Holyoke graduate and native of Worcester, Mass., began mass-producing them.





188 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second-most popular greeting-card-giving occasion. 




This is how I prefer my love notes to come… inside chocolate…





 Head over to Between Naps on the Porch for more tablescaping inspiration…

Goodbye Laundry Sink, Hello Planter

I’m participating in my first Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.



This is where my ugly laundry room sink used to be, that was never used.  Click here to see how ‘lovely’ it was…not.

 This is the before– after removing the sink. The plumbing is staying, I’m just hoping to camouflage it a bit.




I found a stand and an old seed bin at the flea market and decided it would serve as a great planter.  I could change it seasonally with pots of flowers and ivy.



Here it is, empty, except for spanish moss, waiting to be planted…



My laundry “room” is really just a pass-thru, from the  garage to the kitchen…



I love the tattered, worn paper ‘Seeds’ label.



 I added a ceramic bird and bird’s nest…



And for fun, my Portmeirion plate, that echos the daffodils.



A close up of an old trowel…



Some apples for additional color…



A pot of tulips, even though they won’t last very long…



At least now there is something cheery to look at  besides dryer sheets…



It almost makes me believe that spring is right around the corner.




Who needs a laundry sink anyway? :-)

Stop by the Porch for more inspiration…

Puppy Bowl 2010 on Animal Planet


From Animal Planet/Discovery Website:

On Sunday, February 7 from 3-5PM e/p an all-star lineup of rambunctious, rescue pups competes in the ultimate showdown full of dogged defense, puppy penalties and fido first downs. Plus, for the first time in Puppy Bowl history, all the action will be captured in panoramic view with aerial coverage provided by the Twizzler’s® blimp and its rogue hamster crew. In another fun first, the sidelines will also be hopping with the addition of spirited bunny rabbit cheerleaders. Animal Planet has also booked a bevy of frolicking felines for an all-new edition of the Kitty Half-time Show.  

Straight from shelters, this year’s starting lineup is filled with spunky spaniels, fierce French bulldogs and bustling beagles that are ready for action as they vie for the title of MVP (Most Valuable Puppy). Puppy Bowl VI cameras catch all of the thrilling action as the puppies pounce and play, mimicking the rough-and-tumble moves of professional ballers. Our veteran Puppy Bowl referee, Andrew Schechter, will be on hand to keep the players in line and to dole out any necessary “puppy penalties.” With instant replays, the popular water bowl camera and the addition of the blimp, viewers won’t miss any of the action on the field.