The Young Victoria

I saw this yesterday with my friend Annie. It was a perfect movie for a cold, rainy day. Beautiful set, beautiful costumes, beautiful Emily Blunt!

Review in Entertainment Weekly here.

Love this blog

 Love this blog Five Full Plates! I came across it since one of my favorite authors, Joshilyn Jackson, is a contributor.

At the moment, I’m frantically searching for a food vignette in my favorite book of hers, Between, Georgia so that I can use it for a food for thought review.

Read Joshilyn’s post from Tuesday, titled Optical Thin-Lusions.

My favorite quote from Tuesday’s post:  “And I just spent those same four days on vacation, eating Orlando.”

 Gosh, she makes me laugh!

Gone to the Dogs




Don’t they look sweet and innocent?  This is Gracie’s favorite place to rest in the kitchen.



Typically, the dogs are gated in the kitchen during the course of the day. If we are gone, they are gated in the laundry room. In the mornings however, ONE dog, Chloe, wakes up religiously at 5:00 am every morning, demanding to go out and have some kibble. Gracie, would stay in bed until we pried her out with a crow bar.


 My routine is to take them out to do their business, give them some kibble and they will stay gated in the kitchen and go back to sleep on their pillow, or the kitchen chair Gracie has designated as hers. I stumble back to bed, or have coffee and surf.




One morning I come down to this. . .Yes! She actually rested her little head between the spindles and chewed to her heart’s content.  Does she have chew toys you ask? YES!




I make the discovery and after my initial shock, I think, “Oh Well, I’ll rotate the chair around to the corner where it will be less obvious. . .” I start to pull it out and move it around only to realize that she has chewed NOT ONE but, ALL FOUR in varying degrees, AS IF she’s trying to decide WHICH FLAVOR she prefers!



 This one was clearly the most tasty. . .

Found Objects


Definition of Found Object on :

A natural object or an artifact not originally intended as art, found and considered to have aesthetic value. Also called objet trouvé.

I am a sucker for any fragment that has the time-worn patina of age. Looking at an object, you wonder about it’s former life and the stories that it could tell.  Architectural fragments- Corbels, Iron Window Grills, Newell Post fragments, etc. all lend a feeling of history and charm. They can grace a tabletop, bookcase, or mantel. For me, rust, peeling or alligatoring paint finishes, are a testament to the age and a desired state the speaks to me. Granted, you don’t want to have to update your tetanus shot or have lead paint particles floating about in your home, but that aside, after some light cleaning to leave the finish intact, (and testing for lead paint) there  is a certain beauty in an age worn surface.

To quote Nate Berkus in an article in the Seattle Times:

Integrate pieces with patina and age. “That’s a mistake that a lot of people make — they go buy all new furniture and pots and pans, and don’t understand why the place doesn’t feel homey and comfortable,” Nate said. “Even in a building with glass windows to the floor and modern architecture, it’s important to have vintage things that have an inherent character to them, when you’re working in a space that’s very stark. I scoured antiques malls, looking for old books and objects,” including a men’s singles tennis trophy that now houses kitchen utensils.


 I whole heartedly agree! Here are some of my “Found Objects”:

 A garden accent I hung on the wall as art

 An old Corbel flanks some books on a chest


 This is an old green window grate I propped up in the back

of my fireplace and placed some urns from Home Goods

 in front of to fill in the space.  It wasn’t a fireplace we were going

to use, so after cleaning it and removing the

 tired circa 1980 brass screen that enclosed it,

I decided I could decorate the alcove instead.

Always on the look out for another area to accessorize. =)

Here’s a better view…


A Ceiling Tin Fragment used in lieu a headboard

A Chimney Pot I had in the garden for a time, but decided
 to hose off and use as an indoor accent
to fill in a corner…
Here is a book I just added to my “library”:

As well as Nate’s Book,  Home Rules

This book  has been a favorite of mine with lots are architectural salvage ideas that my sister-in-law gave me:

If you’re not lucky enough to be close to a flea market like we are in Charlotte, or in Atlanta  to poke around for that special artifact, here is a fun site  to search.



Lake Life…


 Lake Life  is about moving at a slower, less frenzied pace.

 It’s important to take the time

 to sit in a chair,

 read, reflect or just relax.

I hope to add more to say and share with you as I ‘hone’ my blogging skills…

which is to say, figure out how to do this!

The Help by Kathyrn Stockett





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The Help by Kathyrn Stockett  *****


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!




This was one of my favorite books of 2009, partially because I listened to the audio version. I’m a huge fan of audio books. There are times when listening to a book is just more convenient than reading it. The voices selected for the narration really made these characters come alive. That said, I highly recommend listening to this book…if you can’t listen to it, read it if you haven’t already.







Set in 1962 in racially-charged Jackson, Mississippi, “The Help” are trusted to raise the children, but not trusted to be left alone with the silver service. This story is told from three different points of view:  Skeeter, a recent Ole Miss graduate, who majored in English, instead of “husband –hunting’; Abilene, a black maid, who has nurtured and raised 17 white children, and Minny, who although she can “cook like nobody’s business”, can’t keep her mouth shut or her temper in check to stay employed for very long. It is poignant, funny, and eye opening.


 I really loved these characters and each point of view–Skeeter’s naivete and earnestness, Abilene’s steady faithfulness, and Minny’s feistiness. Their inner dialogues and observations were at times heart wrenching and hilarious.











There are lots of references to preparation and shopping for food…cornbread, pork shops, chicken and dumplings, string beans, okra, etc. Are you hungry yet? Despite all the down-home-style southern favorites mentioned, the food star in this book is a Chocolate Pie… for reasons that will be obvious if you read the book!





Searching for a chocolate pie recipe, I came across Kathryn Stockett’s family’s maid Demetrie’s Recipe. Here it is below minus Minny’s special ingredient :-)





Demetrie’s Chocolate Pie

1-2/3 cups water
5 tablespoons sweetened cocoa powder, such as Ghiradelli
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 9-inch pie shell, prebaked plain or graham cracker
Whipped cream (or if it’s not too humid, you can top with meringue)
Shaved chocolate to sprinkle on top, for looks

  1. In a medium sized, cool saucepan, mix water, cocoa, and cornstarch with a whisk until all the lumps are gone, making a paste. Stir in condensed milk and egg yolks. Heat to just under a boil and stir until it’s thick.

  2. Reduce heat to low and stir in butter. Add in your good vanilla, and keep stirring well. Turn off the heat and let it cool some. Pour into a prebaked pie shell, storebought if that’s how you do things.

  3. Let the pie set-up in a cool spot, like a plug-in refrigerator, covering with wax paper so you don’t get a skin. Dollop cream on top or top with meringue.

Yield: 9 inch pie, 6-8 servings



Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie


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Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie *****

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!


Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than sitting down with a mug of tea and some light-hearted  Chick Lit. Yes, it can be predictable…but sometimes it’s just comforting to expect the happily ever after.  This is one of my favorites, a Jennifer Crusie book, and one that doesn’t disappoint.  Unlike with Jodi Picoult or Nicholas Sparks, it’s nice to know that no tissues or antidepressants  are required.

   A likable main character, Minn Dobbs, full-figured, curvy and round (very identifiable!), is struggling with her body image and men in general. An upcoming family wedding has her swearing off carbs and counting fat grams. Lots of wacky secondary characters, as well as dysfunctional  family members round out the story and make this an entertaining, quick read.

An interlude with donuts  threatens to sabotage her efforts to fit in her bridesmaid’s dress…



as well as a new found love of Chicken Marsala

 Her attempts to recreate if without fat or flour fail dismally but eventually she succumbs to olive oil and butter as well as the realization that a few carbs never hurt anyone.

Chicken Marsala, courtesy of Tyler Florence

  • 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)

  • All-purpose flour, for dredging

  • Kosher salt  and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced

  • 8 ounces crimini or porcini mushrooms, stemmed and halved

  • 1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley


Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them; pound with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly.

Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet. When the oil is nice and hot, dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Slip the cutlets into the pan and fry for 5 minutes on each side until golden, turning once – do this in batches if the pieces don’t fit comfortably in the pan. Remove the chicken to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm.

Lower the heat to medium and add the prosciutto to the drippings in the pan, saute for 1 minute to render out some of the fat. Now, add the mushrooms and saute until they are nicely browned and their moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Pour the Marsala in the pan and boil down for a few seconds to cook out the alcohol. Add the chicken stock and simmer for a minute to reduce the sauce slightly. Stir in the butter and return the chicken to the pan; simmer gently for 1 minute to heat the chicken through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.