Roses **.* by Leila Meacham





I’m joining Jain with my Edible Book Review at Food for Thought, where in her words, pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera.




 and Michael Lee at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday. . . the perfect little food corner in blogland.







 This book for me is a classic example of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. The jacket, which is beautiful, also shows this:





 I’m sorry to say, that was not the case for me. It’s been compared to Gone with the Wind and The Thornbirds. I really wanted to like this book. I was disappointed and found it hard to finish. I lost interest and for the most part found the characters annoying and family members down right cruel.






“The Warwicks, descended from the House of York, grew only white roses in their gardens, while the Tolivers cultivated exclusively red roses, the symbol of the House of Lancaster.”



“The red and white rose. . .They will be a reminder of my duty to our friendship, to our joint endeavors. And if I should offend you, I will send a red rose to ask for forgiveness. And if I receive one tendered for that purpose, I will return a white rose to say that all is forgiven.”







 This multi-generation family saga, involves star-crossed lovers, family secrets, and pride and passion for the land. Three founding families star in this story, that takes place in a small Texas town: the Tolivers, who grow cotton, the Warwicks, who mine timber, and the DuMonts, who sell luxury dry goods. 



“It was a well-known fact that while they lived in one another’s pockets socially, they worked and prospered separately. It was a rule established at the beginning that each man’s enterprise must rise and fall by his own merits–without financial aid or assistance from the others.”






Told in three parts, by three characters’ points of view, this tale spans nearly 100 years and begins with Mary Toliver’s story in 1916.





The Toliver’s cotton plantation, Somerset, is bequeathed to Mary by her father at the tender age of 16, alienating her from her older brother’s and her mother’s affections.


























There were not a lot of food mentions in the book, here is one with the Toliver’s housekeeper, Sassie and her cinnamon rolls:









Ina Garten Easy Sticky Buns Recipe (masquerading as cinnamon rolls, I left the raisins out of Ina’s recipe and used pecans instead)

Recipe Here



 And of course, to look like cinnamon rolls, they had to have icing :-)

Icing Recipe Here 












I have to admit, these sticky buns were yummy without the icing, if fact, my husband preferred them that way :-)





  And another food vignette I stumbled on with Percy and Mary, picnicking on chicken salad and croissants:









Apricot-Almond Chicken Salad

  • 1  cup  sliced almonds, toasted

  • 3  cups  chopped cooked chicken

  • 1  cup  chopped dried apricots

  • 1 cup  halved green grapes

  • 3/4 cup sliced celery

  • 1/4  cup  mayonnaise

  • 1/2  cup plain greek-style yogurt

  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger (I used 1 tsp. for our tastes)

  • 3  tablespoons apricot preserves

  • Salt and pepper to taste


 Stir together mayo, yogurt, ginger, and apricot preserves in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste; add chicken, apricots, celery, grapes, and almonds, tossing gently. Chill until ready to serve.










“The writing of Roses is fraught with problems. First, it is formal and stilted, as though the book were written in the 1950s rather than in 2009. The main characters are sketchily drawn, and Mary, in particular, is as much characterized by her clothes as by her thoughts, which are few.” – The Cleveland Plain Dealer


I’m afraid I tend to agree with this review, rather than those I ran across on Amazon. If you care to, you can read more for yourself, Here.




 “Red is to ask forgiveness, white to say forgiveness granted, pink to say forgiveness withheld.”








  Be sure to stop by Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday Favorites &  Food for Thought to see what everyone is reading and eating.



Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

I was inspired to put together a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party after having seen Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (in 3D no less :-)

 The Hollywood Reporter calls it:  “Truly, Madly, Wonderful”  &  Roger Ebert says : “Enchanting”.  And, as my friend Annie, film aficionado that she is says: “It’s Not-To-Be-Missed!” 

See the Madly Wonderful Johnny Depp in the trailer Here. Better yet, go see the movie if you haven’t already!


 This tea party has all the hallmarks I could find of Alice in Wonderland~

Composed of mismatched napkins, Teapots, odd and single Cups & Mugs, consignment store finds, and family hand-me-downs. . .

A Bunny Cream & Sugar represent the March Hare (although he doesn’t look demented enough :) or the White Rabbit, who’s always late! He’s surrounded by marzipan fruits for this tea party. The pressed glass pedestal belonged to my grandmother.


The Queen of Hearts or Red Queen. . .

 A version of a stolen tart on a filigree silver plate consignment store find. . .

The butterflies on the table and hats, represent the Blue Caterpillar, which is his incarnation in the movie. This pattern is Vivaldi by 222 Fifth that I found at Home Goods this spring. I loved the square plate.

 This one of five of my husband’s grandmother’s hats that I embellished with the addition of a pin. One thing led to another, and I ended up adding pins to the napkins too.


A Cheshire Cat that had me doing a Great-Big-Ole-Happy-Dance in the aisle at Home Goods when I stumbled on it.

Cheshire Cat: “We’re all mad here.”

 Mad Hatter to White Rabbit: “No wonder you’re late. Why, this watch is exactly two days slow.”

This is a single mug that I paired with my Fitz & Floyd Classique d’Or saucer. This little spoon is part of my great-aunt’s silver service. It’s marked S. Kirk & Son. . . mine by default because it has a W on it, which is a M upside-down :)

 A Queen’s Frog Footman . . .

Another embellished hat (I hope she would approve–they have been sitting stacked inside a hat box at the top of a closet for years.)

  Another consignment store find– with the silver basket casting shadows.

 A flower detail inside a bone china teacup.

 Little cakes for Alice to grow taller:  “Curiouser and curiouser!”

 This is a two-in-one teapot and cup set by Caldo-Freddo.

Clocks for tea time (all day!) & a key for Alice to unlock the door . . .

A “drink me” potion to help Alice shrink . . .


Queen of Hearts:   “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

This sugar bowl is part of a set by Royal Doulton/Royal Albert in the English Chintz pattern. It’s part of the 100 years of Royal Albert collection. See more here.

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

The Elusive White Squirrel



This is the elusive white squirrel that I have been trying to photograph for 4 months now. . .I finally managed, through a window, so the photos aren’t great. We have a heavily wooded natural area behind our house in Charlotte, NC.  The canopy of trees in our backyard is essentially a gymnasium for dozens of squirrels.



 The town of Brevard, NC (about 2 1/2 hours away) is known for it’s white squirrel population and even has a white squirrel festival. Brevard’s variety of white squirrel has dark eyes, this one however has pink eyes, and appears to be an albino.



 In my googling I ran across Roadside America’s site that says: “Not one, but five towns use albino squirrels as their claims to fame, and none is particularly happy about the others.”




Another tidbit that turned up in my googling; The University of Texas has a legend of the albino squirrel. My friend Ginny’s son, Trey is about to graduate from there this year. I’ll have to remember to ask if they have heard of this:







  Apparently white squirrels don’t live as long, since they don’t have the camouflage that nature intended, and are easily spotted by predators. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for this little guy.




I’m linking this to  A Southern Daydreamer. Be sure to stop by for more Outdoor Wednesday treats.

Dock Shadows



Three days in a row of glorious sunshine . . . Spring is officially here and it is a little bit closer to boating weather once again. Here are Dock Shadows I’m sharing and linking to Hey Harriet for Shadow Shot Sunday.





Our cove is shallow, but particularly so, at the moment. Duke Energy manages the lake level, and historically lets the lake down in anticipation of spring rains. We certainly had our share this winter, and consequently, had higher water levels than normal which was nice for a change. We are about 3 feet down from full pond at the moment.



 We had rain this past week so the water is still muddy…









 We’re going to try to boat later today, since showers are moving back in tomorrow. Our updated forecast calls for temperatures in the low 70’s, so it will still feel cool but will be great to be out. I’ll have to have a jacket and some towels to cover up with, since it will likely be breezy, but it will feel great to have some Vitamin D direct from the source!




Here’s hoping you have some sunshine in your weekend!




Be sure to visit Hey Harriet for Shadow Shot Sunday.

Pork Tenderloin Sliders



I’m sharing this quick and tasty mini sandwich or slider that is perfect for March Madness or any sitting-around-the-tube-eating-while-watching-sports-event.



 My family has an annual March Madness pool–no great $ on the table, just bragging rights, really . . . this year, they are horribly depressed since their beloved Tarheels didn’t make the tournament. I myself, will pull for anyone in the ACC, or the underdog (this year, one and the same, with two exceptions :-)  We will still all be watching while we eat, drink, and furiously record our wins and losses.



We like to use Smithfield Peppercorn & Garlic Pork Tenderloin for these sliders. It is already marinated and has a great peppery crust. We’ve also tried the Teriyaki and the Hickory Sweet, which are both good. Or you can use a marinade of your own. This is just so easy to grab and go.



My husband is the meat aficionado in our house. He sears it, then leaves it on the grill.



   Leave on the grill (or in your oven) until your meat thermometer registers 145 degrees (usually 25 – 30 minutes). Cover with foil and let stand 10 minutes. The internal temperature will continue to rise.




These are our ingredients for the sliders:  Martin’s Potato Rolls (because they are soft and slightly sweet!), horseradish sauce for a little heat, and a sweet pickle to balance the heat from the peppery tenderloin and the horseradish sauce. And also some mayo.




 You can prepare your tenderloin in advance. The pork has great flavor and is good at room temperature or even cold from the fridge!




There are lots of recipes for pork tenderloin on the Smithfield website that you can see here.










May all your teams advance to the next round, or at the very least, may you enjoy your March Madness snacking! 



Stop by Designs by Gollum for other Foodie Friday Favorites

From Harvest Time to Spring Time, An Easter Transformation



I’m joining Susan’s Tablescape Thursday party.





 This is my grandmother’s china, you may remember seeing here.  It is Harvest Time by Johnson Brothers. I was inspired to bring it into spring time, when I ran across these striped placemats at Home Goods, a few months ago, that tied the pink together with the brown. I added som egg cups, flowers, and Easter goodies to help with the transformation.



 These glittery “Easter Greetings” postcards are available at World Market.




 I pulled this bunny, that normally functions as a bookend, over to the table. I love his distressed finish (I’m pretty sure it’s a him :-)









This stemware I’ve had for ages. . . I don’t remember the manufacturer, it came assorted in 4 colors. I love the bubbles in it.



This “chocolate” egg wreath was at A.C. Moore this spring.











 has this to say:


“The Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests.”



Read more about the Easter traditions of eggs, bunnies, and candy here.





These plum tree blossoms have been so pretty this spring . . . especially since not much else is blooming yet in my neck of the woods. I actually stole pruned these from a tree in the parking lot at Walgreens  . . . do you have pruning shears in your car too?











 I love the vintage-graphics on these reproduction postcards.











These ivy-printed napkins came in a 4-pack at Home Goods ($9.99!) and are Ralph Lauren. . . I’m on the lookout for another 4-pk!





These malted eggs are calling my name, but so far I have resisted temptation :-)





These flowers were in a bouquet at Trader Joe’s–they have the best looking fresh and seasonal flowers at great prices, if there is one near you.








Head over to the Porch for more inspiring tablescapes . . .

What a difference a week makes!



I thought I’d share differences in just a week in my yard. . . I’m so anxious for spring this year that I’m noticing every little change, new bud, and bloom!



Last week’s status (and my St. Patrick’s Day green!)




This week






Last week, maple tree–tight little buds






 This week, all these little buds on the maple trees are feathery and open.








St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.  ~Adrienne Cook



 Have a Happy St. Patty’s Day and be sure to visit A Southern Daydreamer to see other Outdoor Wednesday posts.

Moving Furniture


I’m joining Susan (and company!) at Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday. No great project from me this week, just a handy little gadget you may not know to help you with your own metamorphosis.



These are the greatest invention since sliced bread…have you seen them?  We used them in our retail store, moving chests and sideboards, even large etageres and shelf units. My friend Annie stumbled on these on QVC about 8 years ago, before they became available at mass merchandisers. You can find them at Lowe’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, and Amazon etc.


For carpets and rugs:




For hardwood floors and tile:



Especially handy when your hubby is grumbling about rearranging the sofa or dresser, you can do it all by yourself, without any back strain.




I have multiple sets, that come in handy when I decided to move my sectional sofa.




There is that dog bone Chloe has been looking for that the sliders unearthed!




Head over to the Porch for some inspiring transformations…






So thrilled to see some sun, especially with a bleak forecast of rain for the weekend. I’m joining Hey Harriet for Shadow Shot Sunday.













 The dogs are loving the sunshine too!




“May your joys be as bright as the morning, and your sorrows merely be shadows that fade in the sunlight of love.”


 – Irish Blessing




All Over Creation

I’m joining Jain 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!

All Over Creation ****.* by Ruth Ozeki

  • Audie Award Winner, Fiction (unabridged), 2004

“The story keeps exploding outward like a clump of cells becoming a complex plant but is never out of control; it never even strains credulity. Anna Fields’s reading is as accomplished as the storytelling; as audio experiences go, this is just about perfect.” (AudioFile)

This book is a fun read*, but I recommend you listen to it, for maximum enjoyment! (My rating is most definitely influenced by the audio performance.)

*Some may find the language in this book offensive at times.

My kind of book!… highly entertaining, clever, with lots of quirky characters. Central to the story is Yumi, daughter to Lloyd and Momoko Fuller, potato farmers. Yumi, who always felt like “a random fruit in a field of genetically identical potatoes”, runs away from home after a disastrous affair with her history teacher, at age 15.  Considered a “bad seed”, Yumi tends to make poor decisions when it comes to men. Now living in Hawaii, she has three children, all with different fathers and is a tad too dependent on alcohol.

Lloyd, along with Momoko, his Japanese wife, once ran the largest potato farm in Power County, Idaho. Lloyd, in failing health, and Momoko, suffering from dementia, are still estranged from Yumi twenty-five years later. Cass Quinn, Yumi’s former childhood friend, and also the Fullers’ neighbor, intervenes on their behalf and convinces Yumi to return to Idaho.

Momoko has sustained a thriving seed business on her own during periods of Lloyd’s convalescence:

“She tended her plants, allowing them to ripen, to flower and die–only then did she down to business:  shaking the seeds from their brittle pockets or teasing them wet from their flesh, drying them and sorting them, measuring and labeling them, and slipping them into envelopes for dissemination by the U.S. Postal Service to destinations around the world. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night . . . She was more reliable than the birds and the bees and with a far greater reach.”



“It was a well-known fact that squashes are among the most promiscuous of garden vegetables, and Momoko, confessed she was having a hell of a time keeping her Shanghai squash from cross-pollinating with her Mammoth Kings, and her Sweetbush from her Whangporoas. She had resorted to a fastidious regimen of hand pollination, which Lloyd learned about for the first time when he followed her into the garden at dusk to identify the flowers that would open the next morning.”



With trepidation Yumi returns, her children in tow. She introduces them…Phoenix -14, with his thin stick-brown legs, bushy black hair, sticking up in bristles; Ocean -6 1/2, a fair-haired girl with sea-blue eyes; and baby- Poo, liquid black eyes and skin the color of chocolate milk, to Lloyd:

 Lloyd, (as he studies their hair, their complexions, comparing): “What kind of children have names like that?”

Ocean: “We’re Good children. That’s what kind.”


Yumi drops two of the large vegetables, one round, the other long, in front of Momoko… “What are these?”

“Momoko looked at the large, mutant squashes and shook her head. I don’t know. Then she started to giggle. ‘Uri wa iyarashii no yo.’ She picked one up and studied it, turning it over in her crooked hands. ‘Maybe is a little bit zuke, and little bit Delicata, and little bit…whatchamacallit. Sweet Pumpkin.’ She handed it back and pointed to Ocean and Phoenix, who were fixated on the screen. Like them. All mixed up.”

“The Seeds of Resistance” appear on the scene. The Seeds, a traveling group of environmentalists, arrive at the Fullers’ farm in their “Spudnik”, a Winnebago, modified to run on French Fry Oil. The Seeds having stumbled on one of the Fullers’ catalogs, believing Lloyd to be “the one they have been waiting for. A humble seedsman, but a visionary. A born leader of men. The American farmer making a lonely stand, defending his seed against the hubris and rapacious greed of the new multinational life-sciences cartel. In Idaho, no less! Mr. Potato Head’s cloning ground, his place of origin!”

As one might imagine, mayhem ensues wherever this merry band of protestors go.



“Lloyd’s home, Mom. And your daughter’s having a nervous breakdown. And there’s a caravan of hippies camping out behind the barn. Oh, and you’re a prophet for the Revolution.”

Momoko has  brief periods of lucidity. Lloyd has written labels on  items with index cards to help Momoko identify them. Phoenix and Ocean have taken to befuddling Momoko by rearranging signs. “The chair had turned into the CEILING. The teapot was a REFRIGERATOR.” Yumi attempts to stop this game but to no avail.

Momoko: “I gonna teach him lesson,” she said. Her voice was low, conspiratorial now. “You know that Nix? He is very bad boy. He play some tricks on me, moving all the labels. So now I trick him back. I move them first, then she think he did it.”

 Yumi: “She? Who is she?”

 Momoko: “His mommy. When she catch him, boy, she get plenty mad!”


The food star of this book is obviously the potato. My kryptonite. Nothing tempts me like a potato… Baked, Au Gratin, Fried, Mashed, in Chip form… If I was on death row, with one last meal, I would request potatoes prepared four different ways :-)

I’m sharing one of my favorite potato recipes, Smoky Mashed Potato Bake, that you can find Here.

I have to say, my potato photos look a little “anemic”, but this recipe tastes anything but . . . the recipe calls for 2 –  3 chipotle peppers, and 3 pack too much heat for me!

And, I always add more smoked Gouda than the recipe calls for :-)

I got such a kick out of the Promiscuity of Squashes Chapter, I wanted to include a squash recipe with my Edible Review.


Roasted Pear-Butternut Soup with Crumbled Stilton, but for the purposes of this Edible Review, we’ll call this “Promiscuous Squash Soup” :-) You can find the recipe Here. I also shared it for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum, where you can see the steps.

 The Free Dictionary defines promiscuity as  “a mixture of diverse or unrelated parts or individuals; a hodgepodge”, which is appropriate considering the combination of unlikely ingredients in this soup!

The combination of humor and tug-at-your-heartstrings moments in this book, makes this a great read.

 “All Over Creation tells a celebratory tale of the beauty of seeds, and growing things, and the capacity for renewal that resides within us all.”