Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Afterschool Special

What a week we've had!  Soccer and baseball, piano and choir and church services and youth groups add up to lots of miles - and time in the car.  That's time that doesn't get devoted to cooking.  A lot of times we go to Chic-Fil-A or our favorite Mexican restaurant.  I decided this week that at least the three of us could sit down together after school... and why not make it special?

My Grandaddy J.R. loved a Coke float.  We had them often at his house.
I wondered if my children had ever had one.
"Is this a Coke smoothie", Julia asked? 
 Yes, times have changed!!

I have a love for all things "50's".
How could you not when you grew up watching...      

I've hosted a "Fifties Birthday" for Mama.

... and I made Julia a fifties sock hop costume for Halloween a couple of years ago.

When the Cricut cartridge, Nifty Fifties, was released this year, I knew that I could have some fun with it.  I thought these cards were cute, 
but John never noticed his in his haste to get to the cookies.

Julia liked hers.  
Isn't that what she was really saying when she said, 
"Seriously, Mom..." ?

Forget the cards, forget the tablescape... they loved the cookies!
They are the best chocolate chip cookies ever!

And... I will share the recipe! They are from The Blue Willow Inn Cookbook
and they are superb.  Vanilla pudding is the secret, I think.

Melanie's Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour                                                      
1 tsp baking soda                                                                   
1 tsp salt                                                                                 
2 eggs                                                                                    
2 sticks butter, MELTED                                                       
chopped pecans, optional   
3/4 cup packed brown sugar   
1/4 cup granulated sugar  
1 package instant vanilla pudding            
1 tsp vanilla
12 oz chocolate chips
Reese's Pieces, optional
Combine flour, soda and salt in bowl and set aside.

In separate bowl, combine eggs and butter.  Mix with electric mixer until creamy.

Add sugars, vanilla and instant pudding.  Mix well.

Slowly add flour mixture.  Mix well.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet 3 inches apart.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

Just yum...

Placemats - The Dollar Tree, Red banded Melamine plates - Wal Mart;
"Milkshake" glasses by Libby - online
Runner - thrifted at Goodwill
Coca Cola straw dispenser and Crosley Radio - ebay
Cookie plate - European Country from Pier 1
Cake dome - Target

For Archie, every time the children step off the bus, 
it's An After School Special.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beauty Secrets

My family is made up of such beautiful people.  One of the reasons is because we all know this secret:

PORK barbeque makes you pretty. 

We ought to all be drop dead gorgeous.

I want to share my family's favorite source for this beauty product:

The "old" location is Jackson, Georgia.  My Daddy would definitely plan trips around stopping there.  For years, we had Fresh Air BBQ at most family functions at the homes of both grandparents who lived near Jackson.  Now, we have two locations near Athens.  One is in Hull and one is in Bogart. We continue the tradition - and it's now so much more convenient.  Should you decide to stop on your next trip to Athens,  this Fresh Air is on the Atlanta Hwy west of the Pepsi plant.  We'll probably be there.  You'll recognize us as the good lookin' ones!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Confirmation Celebration Tablescape

No ruffles here.  This tablescape honors our son, John, who was confirmed at Central Presbyterian Church on Sunday, April 17.  John is a great 3rd baseman, pitcher and outfielder when the calendar says, 'baseball" and when we turn the page to "football", he is a terrific tight end.  For our family dinner celebrating his Confirmation,I challenged myself to create a table setting that would be pretty, yet masculine.

I drew a blank.

Then I did what I always do when that happens.

I challenged mama.

Mama is especially handy with flower arranging.

Together, we decided on this light brown and white plaid tablecloth
 with Mama's brown straw placemats.
The dinner plate is from a Jacklyn Smith collection that is sold at KMart.
The salad plate is Spode Woodland.
Flatware is Oneida's Dover.

This is a better shot of the linens - tablecloth and napkins - both were thrifted.
Napkin rings from Pier 1.
The beverage glasses were also borrowed from Mama. 

Nothing too fru fru. 
 Nothing too fancy. 
All boy...

... with thanks to Nanny.

I am linking to Between Naps on the Porch
for Tablescape Thursday.

Between Naps on the Porch

Confirmation Weekend

April 17 was a beautiful Palm Sunday in Athens, Georgia.  While that day is always significant, the fact that our son was confirmed that day made it even more so. Confirmation is basically becoming  a member of the church.  In our church, there is a super, well planned program for all 7th graders who wish to join.  They learn an awful lot and have a wonderful time.  (And this is all made possible by the most awesome youth pastor ever. See picture below.)  So, in short, this was a big day for John and the entire family.

We cannot thank Deb Trimpe enough.  What a smart, talented cookie - and she is able to get a crowd of middle school boys to behave, learn and grow spiritually... and they love her for it.

The previous year's Confirmation class treats the current year's class and families to a pancake breakfast.  My brother's family drove 51/2 hours through Friday night's storms to be here for John.

John's cousin, Cooper, at the pancake breakfast.

Mom, Dad and John

As our children grow up, Central Presbyterian gives them many gifts.  Most of these are intangible, but certainly valuable.  They really like the ones they can hold in their hands.  I admit it!  I do too! How cool is this?  Our church gives all 3rd graders Reader Bibles, all 4th graders get Presbyterian Hymnals (I love that) and at their Confirmations, they are given Study Bibles.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Green

Don't you just love those silly quizzes that tell you "your color"?  I recently took one and found out that I was "Meadow Green".  Good to know.  I do love green and wear it often - and this week, my table wore it too!

Since we are out for Spring Holidays, we have time to eat a good breakfast and to really set the table.  With nobody up, I can rearrange this tablescape to my heart's content. I've decided that those ho hum juice glasses just have to go.

I changed those and used these glasses, which are fine for juice, but are really Jamestown water goblets by Fostoria.  I just got them on Ebay.  Of course I had to use them right away!  (They match the Depression Glass a little better than this picture would have you believe.) I love them.  My mama chose that pattern when she got married.  When I was growing up, we only used those glasses on special occasions, so I've decided to make this a very special breakfast.

And since we are making it a special meal,  I went ahead and got the silver out.  This pattern is Old Atlanta by Wallace.  (Just the name channels that inner Scarlett, doesn't it?)  I didn't pick this pattern when I got married, I rewarded myself with some pieces after I ran a marathon a few years ago.  It was worth it!

This dinner plate, cup and saucer are from Mikasa.  You've probably seen it on a million blogs.  It is Italian Countryside.  I decided I loved it after seeing how many different bloggers had used it in so many different ways. (Especially Yvonne at The Stone Gable!)  It's quite the workhorse of tablescaping!  The salad plate is Block Optic by Anchor Hocking.  I use it all the time.  I'll probably put a little fruit salad on it. We'll warm up with that and then dive into grits, (well, of course!) biscuits and honey, bacon and eggs. The green and white checked napkins are by Waverly and were purchased years ago at Stein Mart.  The napkin ring is from Pier 1.  The white napkins that are layered with the green and white ones belonged to my Grandmother Middlebrooks.  I'm sure she would think it's a hoot that I am taking pictures of them and blogging about it!

Back to Grandmama: this was another one of her linens that I associate with special occasions.  I lined a white hobnail milk glass basket with it.  That's for the biscuits.

I will probably just drink coffee - and lots of it, but the special people might like hot tea.  I love this tea pot that is Friendly Village by Johnson Brothers.  The teapot and the  platter are from Athens Antiques which is just a fun place to stop when you visit Athens.  One of the vendors there has quite a Johnson Brothers collection.  Knowing I love their patterns, she twisted my arm into buying this awesome platter! looks like Friendly Village, but it isn't.  It was made to sell at Mount Vernon and stars George and Company.  It matches Friendly Village perfectly, but I love thinking that it is quite American!

And before I call the special people to their special breakfast, check this out!  These were supermarket flowers from Publix.  I thought they were really pretty in this hobnail fan vase.  Mama hates a fan vase.  What do you think?

"John... Julia... time to get up.  Breakfast is ready."

"Ahhh, Mom, we wanted Poptarts!

Tonight, I'll be linking to Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.  Tomorrow I'm sleeping later and serving... Poptarts!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Beauty Secrets

I thought that I would begin a recurring post called "Beauty Secrets".
While I want to believe that the next new eye cream will really erase
10 years, we all know better - so this post will be about real beauty - the
kind that lasts. (And we'll have a little fun, too - further cementing those laugh lines.)

The product that really removes all the ugly "before" pictures.

Collard greens make you pretty.

After serious thought, I have decided to reveal to the rest of the world a beauty secret that is known far and wide in the south: collard greens make you pretty.  This is also true of cornbread, creamed corn, butter beans, field peas and especially fried green tomatoes.  Fortunately for us all, these foods can be found in abundance in my hometown, Social Circle, Georgia.  For those of you who dish, you will love that the restaurant is named for a china pattern: The Blue Willow Inn.

The restaurant's owner, Mrs. Billie Van Dyke says, "y'all please come".  You won't be sorry.  The grounds are as pretty as the food is good.  I ate there tonight and it was great!  Don't just take my word, though.  The Blue Willow Inn has been featured in two of my favorite magazines, "Southern Lady" and "Southern Living".  I am sure countless other food critics on their own beauty quests have visited as well.

Sadly, Mr. Louis Van Dyke passed away recently and the poor economy has not been kind to the restaurant.  In fact, after my own bridesmaids' luncheon was there, I could not remember when I had even been there and I don't live so far away. Mrs. Van Dyke desparately needs for the restuarant to have great revenue during the month of April.  I promised her that I would do my part and stop in more often.

My children ate with my mom, my husband and me there tonight at a dinner honoring seven citizens who have made an impact on the town, through a program called "Guiding Lights".  My daddy was honored posthumously.  Some of his best friends were honored as well.  It was so nice to see "community" as it should be.  For my 13 year old, the highlight, though, was the food.  The night revealed two certainties: 1) he is more beautiful than ever and 2) we will be back very soon!

The Blue Willow was once a beautiful home and its twin is right across the street.  The story goes that two brothers built the same house.  After the first one was built the second brother built the same plan but enlarged it by a linear foot or two and added brick! 

One of my favorite patterns...

Mrs. Van Dyke showing off her complete line of sweet beauty products!

Your mouth is watering... soon your skin will be glowing...