I’ve Moved

I recently found a couple of blogs that I was interested in only to find that for some reason, they had been abandoned. I pored through the posts, wondering why someone would just stop writing.

And then I remembered that I had done just that.

I started this blog as a test — to see if the tablescaping world was more welcoming than the book review world was. Lo and behold, it was, so I consolidated my posts in one place and use linkys to meet more friends in my areas of interest.

Thank you for visiting The Seasoned Dish. You will find me at Got My Reservations now. Please click in and come over to visit!

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Happy spring planting! It’s Mothers’ Day and time to plant in my neck of the woods.

Another beautiful photo from Facebook — I’ve done this chair planter trick before, but wanted to capture the gorgeous mix of flowers used in this piece of art. I’m thinking that’s a wire “pot” filled with soil that goes all the way to the ground, which makes a lot of sense. Now all I need is an old chair — tomorrow morning is garbage day and I may just have to go a-picking.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday with Friends: A Textural Tablescape

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It all started when I spied these adorable little cafe chair napkin rings at Pier One. I knew I had to have them in my collection. The pink and cream loosely woven napkins seemed right for the textural tablescape, so I started with those as a color theme.

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Then, knowing the IRONY in buying a burlap-wrapped vase with French script writing on it, I decided to build a Frenchy centerpiece for my table that would look pretty while my house-sitter was living at my house, but which would not require any maintenance.

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I popped fake flowers into the vase, got out my flameless pillar candles and some woven decorative ornaments, and put it all on a wooden platter. I had a centerpiece.

When we got home from France, I replaced the fake flowers with some pink roses from the grocery store. They didn’t hold up very well, and quickly began to droop. I liked the blowsy, fading glory look of the centerpiece better that way.

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We were eager to see our neighbors across the street after our trip, so I invited them over for dinner and a little music-making. We are all working on Godspell at my church and wanted to play through some arrangements Music Man has done for the pit band. Thank goodness, my friends don’t get excited when I get out my “stuff” and the men are quite self-actualized and don’t get offended by a pink-themed table. :)

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We began with a little champagne. I have a large collection of wine charms, some of which are store-bought and some my friend and I made by choosing very specific charms relevant to our lives. Needless to say, I usually take the saxophone charm. I like the juxtaposition of the two stages of polish on the silver against the shiny brass of the wine charm and the sparkling champagne flute.

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I started with the round woven “straw” placements I got at Tuesday Morning. I kept shopping until I found three packages of four placemats. I almost always buy twelve linens just in case.

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I have eight of these majolica-style Italian plates that I bought many years ago at a home store. I picked the strawberries, cherries, and apples for this table as the fruit has pink coloring. There are also plums, grapes, and pears in the set.

IMG_9249 BCombined with my trusty Pfalzgraff Filigree plates, the Fostoria salt and peppers, the Gorham Chantilly silver, Anchor Hocking tumblers, and Crystal d’Arques Longchamp wine glasses, I had a tablescape.

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We finished our meal with fruit, cookies, and candies brought by our friends and served on Fostoria plates and my favorite fruit compotes (really shrimp cocktail bases!). It was a wonderful way to spend an evening winding down after the stresses of the week — and recovering from jet lag.

For the recipes for this meal, check out my other blog, Got My Reservations. The Slow-Cooker Lasagna is definitely a keeper!

I’m linked up today at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. Check out the creative and beautiful tablescape designs!

What Makes You Think That Is French? — Part Deux

The verdict is in.

Many of you commented on my challenge regarding Americanized “French style” and I appreciate your participation!

Fourteen days in France and only one chippy piece of furniture.

The "chippy" table in the Chateau de Roussan.

The “chippy” table in the Chateau de Roussan.

This piece was in the hallway in one of the most elegant and beautiful hotels I have stayed in.

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We arrived in the late afternoon and were losing the sun.

We arrived in the late afternoon and were losing the sun.

The Château de Roussan is a hotel and restaurant just outside of Saint Remy de Provence, dating from the XIII century. Its storied inhabitants include Nostradamus’s family and Diane de Joannis de Roussan who is reputed to have been a favorite of Louis XIV.

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Our room was spacious and charming.

IMG_7998 IMG_8002With a beautiful, modern bathroom (sorry these are out of focus, but I wanted to include them).

IMG_7991 IMG_7990 IMG_7992The public spaces were very grand.

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We also had an eight course dinner in the dining room that was prearranged by our tour guide, Philip Haslet of Unique Provence Travel. More on that another day, but it was amazing!

If you ever get a chance to stay at the Chateau de Roussan, I highly recommend it.

Farmer’s Market in Aix-en-Provence

And….. I’m back from France full of inspiring adventures to share with you!

Today we’re visiting the Farmers’ Market in Aix-en-Provence. Since we were there on a Monday, we toured and shopped the Marché Place Richelme: a local producers market on Place Richelme near the city hall, daily 9:00AM – 12:30PM.

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In early April, there isn’t much produce grown locally as it is early in the season. The strawberries, however, were just starting and we saw tender new asparagus.

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Other produce is imported from Spain and warmer climates, but the produce is still quite fresh because it doesn’t have to be shipped very far (France is the size of Texas).

DSC03981 DSC03982 DSC03983 DSC03986 DSC03987 DSC03995 DSC03998 DSC04000 DSC04002 DSC04003 DSC04004Then there was the cheese! The Provençal locals take their cheese very seriously. Their olive oils, tapenades, sausages and pates are also palate – pleasers.

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I gave this vendor my business card and told her to watch for her farmstand on my blog.

DSC03989 DSC03988 DSC03990 DSC03991 DSC03992 DSC03993What do you think of when you think about the south of France? Do you visualize fields of lavender?

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We visited this abbey, but it was too early in the season for the lavender to be flowering.

Local farmers sell many types of lavender products in the markets and tourist shops. Our group bought lavender sachets and the famous Savon de Marseille soap in the market.

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I found the market to be very inspirational and now that I’m home, I’m back to cooking with fresh and organically-grown ingredients. I can’t wait until our own farmers’ markets open in early June!

Bookin’ and Cookin': The Tea House on Mulberry Street

Food and interesting stories. Each is one of life’s greatest pleasures, so when they are skillfully woven together into a book, we get twice the happiness. Today I’m reviewing The Tea House on Mulberry Street (2005), by Sharon Owens, in this episode of Bookin’ and Cookin.’

In her debut novel, Sharon Owens has woven together an ensemble cast of twisty Irish characters, set in the sometimes grim face of Belfast. Penny and Daniel Stanley own and operate Muldoon’s Tea Rooms, which Penny inherited from her parents, but they’ve both got secrets. Brenda Brown lives next door in a crumbling apartment and creates dark paintings that reflect her sad spirit — and she’s a “true fan” of Nicholas Cage. The Crawley sisters have devoted their life to helping others and basking in the reflected glory of their father’s WWII bravery. Rose is lonely and dispirited in her flower shop, and Henry is aghast at his wife Aurora’s need to impress people through her book club and enormous new conservatory. Arnold and Sadie co-exist in a loveless marriage, with Arnold’s success selling conservatories and replacement windows giving him an excuse for philandering and leaving Sadie with the care of his aging parents. Claire and Peter lost track of each other seventeen years ago and have never since been able to establish good relationships because they are still in love. In each story, which interconnect in the style of Love Actually, there are twists and turns, and some are even unexpected. I suspect you will cheer for Sadie and wonder if Penny and Daniel can ever make up for their years of hurts and secrets. Because these characters are mature people with problems that can occur in mature relationships, it’s not really chick lit for the reader looking for something light.

These stories are set on the daily plate of tempting goodies that come out of the kitchen at Muldoon’s Tea Rooms and will have you determined to find a tea room of your own to visit. Although there’s only one recipe actually at the back of the book, there’s a lot of creative inspiration here for your own tea party.

With a devastating review on amazon.com from Publishers’ Weekly and mixed reviews from both Amazon and goodreads viewers, you might find this book to be Maeve Binchy “lite.” I listened to it on audio, and found Caroline Winterson’s interpretation to be sprightly and compelling. Still, it gets four stars from both sets of reviewers, so I don’t think I’m alone in suggesting that The Tea House on Mulberry Street is worth reading.

While Nigella Lawson is apparently now sold on no-bake Cherry Cheesecake, this recipe for baked New York Cheesecake from smitten kitten is more like what Daniel and Penny served at Muldoon’s. As for me, I’m still savoring the special treat that Sandy made me several years ago and I’m generally able to satisfy my cheesecake cravings locally by shopping at Eli’s Cheesecake — and I go to the outlet whenever I need cheesecake for a large group!