Our Family Grows By One: An Engagement Celebration

Big news has come to our family!  There is going to be a wedding in the very near future uniting two of my favorite people in the world.

Our immediate family is growing by one, our extended family by many, and our happy hearts by leaps and bounds. Family is an important ingredient in the recipe of a happy life, and we could not be more pleased the happy couple chose to include The Places In The Home gang in celebrating their joyous occasion.

Aunt Darleen had a 48 hour window to get her engagement party act together.  The future Mr. and Mrs. phoned to tell us they were coming in for the weekend, and that they wanted to have dinner at our house Saturday evening. I immediately knew a surprise engagement family celebration dinner was in order. The menu needed to be a little left of a traditional Sunday dinner with a comfortable and unpretentious vibe.


Blush Rose Punch

Fresh Fruit Tray

Crispy Cheese Straws


Pita Chips and Pretzels


Spring Mix & Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Creole Pecans, and Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Main Course~

Beef Roast with Golden Mushroom Gravy

Baked Potatoes

Green Peas with Pearl Onions

Fried Corn


Vanilla Creme Cake


Iced Tea

There was a method to my tablescape madness.  Dinner plates in “Emma-tation” pattern fashion featuring double rimmed beaded detail in closed circles, band of gold salad plates, and polka dot design dinner napkins served function and meaning. Round and round we go until we complete the circle of love.

Three hundred white tea light candles lined the walk to the proposal and to the heart of the man K will call her husband.  Eight white and two red tea light candles symbolically surrounded one heart.

The Kate Spade dessert plates were the hit I thought they would be.


From our home to theirs they went, hopefully a treasured memory from a most special evening.

Congratulations, K and C, and thank you both for making a special effort to include us all in your engagement celebration!


A Spot Of Spooky Style With A Touch Of Back In The Day Tradition

Spooktacular times and Halloween decorating ideas are brewing. We are celebrating two milestone birthdays in our immediate family this October, and Halloween conveniently furnishes the party theme.  The potion for the proper blend of  Halloween haunt is a spot of spooky style mixed with a touch of back in the day tradition. Shrieks of shabby delight will result when using these vintage and shabby inspired tags and bingo cards found on Etsy.

Halloween tags

This feather gray ceramic Owl Pitcher will give a hoot to a Howl-o-ween tablescape or vignette.  

owl pitcherOwl Pitcher in Feather Grey

The address for this affordable and easy Halloween grapevine wreath is 101 Inspiration Lane. Orange and black burlap and glitter tuille, natural or spray painted sweet gum balls, and mini pumpkin pails filled with moss, leaves or plastic spiders with spider webbing, and inexpensive costume jewelry keep things in fall and Halloween theme.  Got an old pair of black platforms no longer in your shoe rotation?  Grab the glue gun and get busy, my little pretties.


Rubber mice have never looked so cute! These mice mansion pumpkins bring the right balance of unique, gross, and fright to the festivities. Kids of all ages will love it!  Click on the links to the easy how to guides for the Swiss cheese Mouse House pumpkin from Better Home and Gardens and the Mouse Motel pumpkin from  Martha Stewart.

Halloween carved pumpkins1, 2

This is one time of year you want your soiree to be for the birds!  Hitchcock’s genius was spooky wicked brilliant, and what better theme to go with.  A framed photo of Mr. Hitchcock from Amazon, Halloween Wiccan Lace assorted salad plates from Target,  black and orange round tinsel placemats from Pier 1 Imports, and a set of four Halloween themed kitchen towels from Target will set both the mood and the table for a frightening feast.

Alfred HitchcockAlfred Hitchcock with a Skull and Glass 16″ X 20″ Image Size Vintage Poster Reproduction 


Pier 1 Imports 

This Solar Power Powered Gargoyle Light Eyes Statue Figure will light up the night and the path to the tricks and treats.

The candy is stashed, the pumpkins are stacked, and I’m counting two weeks to go ’til trick or treat time.

Love your style!

In Honor of Julia Child’s Birthday: Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Happy Birthday, Julia Child!  August 15th marks the birthday of Julia Child, one of my absolute favorite cooks.  Currently, I am without proper kitchen facility during of our kitchen painting marathon.  If one can’t cook, one can certainly join in the Julia Child birthday celebration by posting one of her favorite Julia Child dishes, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home Chicken Pot Pie recipe.

Julia Child

“The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken.  Bon appétit.”

Julia Child


Mrs. Child’s practical and palatable approach to food and her in Julia’s kitchen advice, wry sense of humor, and signature brand of cooking techniques continue to inspire the foodie faithful of the this culinary world we deliciously exist in.


I continue to marvel at the tenacity of Mrs. Child.  She was a woman who knew exactly what she wanted, and deliciously excelled in achieving it. The informative timeline of Julia Child’s life is a fascinating read.


What makes a great chef?  In the case of Julia Child, I believe her mass appeal is derived from her ability to impress upon us her passion for the process from pegboard to prep to plate.


In honored celebration of Julia Child’s birthday, this week’s recipe is from the Julia Child and Jacques Pepin cookbook and PBS series of the same name, Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home. 

Julia and Jacques Cooking at homeJulia and Jacques, Cooking at Home

Julia and Jacques Chicken Pot Pie


For the crust:

3  cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2  Tablespoons cold vegetable shortening

1/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons ice water

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon sugar

For the Filling:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup chopped carrot

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup thinly sliced leeks

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

1 cup frozen baby green peas

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2½ cups chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

salt and freshly ground pepper

3 cups leftover roast chicken, cut into ½-inch chunks.


For the crust:

Combine flour, butter, shortening, salt and sugar in a food processor. Pulse together just until the mixture is crumbly and butter is broken into small pieces. Pour 1/3 cup  ice water into the machine, and pulse 3 or 4 times. Squeeze a little dough in your hand to see whether it clumps together and is evenly moist. If not, add 2 tablespoons of water, and pulse 1 or 2 times more. Don’t overmix so that the dough forms a ball.

Turn out dough, pâte brisée, on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Lift the ends of the plastic to gather dough together inside. Press into a large disk, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 2 days.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrot, celery, leeks and tarragon, and cook, stirring just until slightly softened but not browned (reduce the heat if necessary to prevent browning), about 3 minutes. Transfer cooked vegetables to a bowl, wipe out the skillet, and place it back on the stove.

Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter, and melt over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking until the mixture bubbles and smells cooked. Do not let it brown. Whisk in 2 cups broth and cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in cream, and cook 2 or 3 minutes, just until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too thick, whisk in remaining broth.  In the episode, Julia states  “And as always, you want to  make more sauce than you think, don’t you think?  Never enough.”

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Add cooked vegetables and peas, chicken and sauce to 8-ounce deep pie dish or other baking dish.  Mix gently and taste for seasoning.

Flour a work surface. Remove dough from refrigerator, and cut in half. (Set aside half for another recipe.) Roll out remaining dough, turning and flouring often, and cut a shape approximately the size of your baking dish plus 1½ inches overlap all around.

Whisk egg in a small bowl. Brush onto rim of dish. Roll dough up onto the rolling pin, and unroll over dish, so it rests evenly on top of filling. Press overlap onto the rim and against the outside of the dish, sealing tightly. Poke tip of knife through crust to create 3 steam holes near the center. Place on cookie sheet and place in oven. Bake 20 minutes at 400 degress, then reduce temperature to 375 degrees. Bake 15 to 20 minutes more, until crust is golden and filling is bubbling through steam vents.

Allow to rest and cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 8.

Bon appétit!  Happy cooking!



Lovin’ The Oven: Orange French Toast With A Side Of Cornmeal & Brown Sugar-Crusted Bacon

Recipes normally prepared on the stove quickly become new found favorites when adapted for the oven.  Easy works for me, and I’m lovin’ the easy bake oven recipe!  Perusing through old Southern Living emails, I came across not one but two attention grabbing recipes.  Several tweaks later I officially added oven baked Orange French Toast with a side of Cornmeal & Brown Sugar-Crusted Bacon to the list of favorite combination meals.

In my humble opinion, these dishes rank in taste excellence along the lines of other great culinary combos.  Add them to the list of notables – meatloaf and mashed potatoes, ham and cheese anything, hamburgers and french fries.   C’est si bon!

Orange French Toast


1 12oz. jar orange marmalade

orange zest

1 loaf French bread, cut into cubes

1 8 0z. package cream cheese, cut into cubes  *optional ingredient*

2 cups half and half

½ cup milk

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Syrup for topping


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Over medium heat cook orange marmalade, orange zest and 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1-2 minutes to a smooth consistency.  Lightly grease or spray with cooking spray 13 X 9 inch baking dish.

I included the cream cheese and although good, I don’t believe it is a necessary ingredient. I f using cream cheese cubes, place half of the bread cubes in pan and top with cream cheese cubes.  Drizzle half the orange marmalade mixture over the bread and cream cheese.

Top with the other half of the bread cubes and drizzle with remaining orange marmalade. If choosing to omit the cream cheese, place all the bread cubes in pan, topping with the orange marmalade mixture.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, 1 tsp. cinnamon, vanilla and ½ cup brown sugar.


Pour over bread mixture, coating all pieces.  You may have to use a spoon to push down some of the pieces to coat.  Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup brown sugar over top.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with syrup. Serves 8.

Cornmeal & Brown Sugar-Coated Bacon


¼ cup yellow cornmeal

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 Tablespoon black pepper

12 slices bacon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Using a fork, combine first 3 ingredients in a baking dish.  Dredge bacon slice in cornmeal mixture.

Place bacon on foil lined baking sheet, spacing pieces equally apart.

Bake at 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until browned and crisp.  Let stand 5 minutes.




Read Any Good Books Lately?

Read any good books lately?  With Thanksgiving Day less than two weeks away, reading up on ideas, creative endeavors, recipes, lists, grocery ads and Black Friday information tops my reading list. I am determined to add a really good read to my relaxation therapy routine and thought travel time.

Trinity College Library

Elle Decor ~ Flickr User Brett Jordan

A good read can introduce you to places, spaces and faces of interest and intrigue.  My read any good books lately library may not be vast, but it’s informative, inspirational and entertaining.

reading-quoteCountry Living

Bless Dillard’s heart and their take an additional 30% off sales.  When I spied The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan on the sale table, I knew it wouldn’t be long before this gem would be my new best friend in the kitchen.  If I had a nickel for every time I am going to read this baby over the next few days…

I appreciate good material and pointers in this area.  A Warm Welcome: How to Be a Gracious Host to Friends and Family by Amy Elliot keeps me on my toes.  It’s a welcomed refresher course to lend confidence to this gracious hostess with hopefully impeccable manners and holiday mostess.

a warm welcome

As we enter the season of holiday entertaining, a guide to simple ways to open your heart and home to others is required reading.

a life that says welcome

A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others ~ Karen Ehman

I have found the find, or should I say the book of how to find finds, accessorize finds, and to know what you have found. The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decoration with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details by Stan Williams.  The “Y” on the cover is very profound, and this read answers a lot of whys- why we love decorating with treasures, trinkets, and trash.  Lucille would be proud!

Home by Carson Ellis illustrates the concept of and the varied places people call home.


When I need to laugh, when I need to not take things so serious, and when I need to relax, this is the one book I find myself going back to time and time again.  Clinton Kelly’s Freakin’ Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally Be Better Than Everyone Else is a laugh-out-loud literary riot!  The chapter on etiquette and the examples of hand written thank you notes is reason enough to buy the book. Hilarious!

clinton kelly freakin' fabulous

This one is an oldie but a goodie.  Rickles’ Book, not Mr. Rickles.  He is an institution and a class act, and a man who values the importance of family and friends.  Dave the Builder makes me swear never to sit close to the stage at a Rickles performance.  The first time we saw him in Vegas was in 1990 at the Golden Nugget.  We were with a group of family and business associates, and thankfully a couple of the wives were running late which helped us to be seated in the back of the showroom. The last time we saw Mr. Rickles in a live Vegas performance was in 2010. We were seated on the second row and right in Rickles’ firing range.  I am still convinced Dave the Builder held his breath for the entire performance.  Good times!


Both a seasonal, inspirational, and everyday best seller.  The Holy Bible aka the good book is indeed a good read.


Read any good books lately?

In Memoriam- September 11, 2001~2011

“Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow
Try to remember, and if you remember
Then follow”  (Tom Jones)

This Chandelier Is For The Birds

The moments of tranquility we’ve enjoyed staring out our kitchen window at the hummingbird feeder and waiting for the wonder of nature rank high on “the best things in life are free” meter.   We are experiencing oppressive heat and drought conditions here in the Deep South.  Birds of all kinds of feathers flock to the hummingbird feeder for water on a first come, first gets basis.  I got uncharacteristically quiet the other morning, that glazed look of decor inspiration came over my face, and Dave the Builder knew a wrought iron chandelier bird feeder DIY project was on the horizon.

A couple of years ago I purchased two ornate six light wrought iron chandeliers at auction sans wiring.  The price was fantastic- $20.00 each.  I gave one to a friend for a housewarming gift, and the other one I have kept at the shop in “don’t put a price tag on that one, I might keep it” mode.  I lovingly refer to the shop as my personal climate controlled storage unit but, I digress.  I rang up Dave the Builder and asked him to drop by the shop and bring the fixture home.  I let him in on my intentions for the fixture and he assured me it was doable.


I found a six pack of mini terracotta planters at Hobby Lobby.  The small drainage hole in the bottom of each planter was the right idea but not large enough to fit the bolt.  Dave the Builder carefully drilled larger holes to accommodate.


We both agreed it would be better to leave the terracotta pots in their original finish vs. painting  to eliminate any potential harm to the birds.  The modified pots fit perfectly into the candle cups, and we folded the leaves around the pots to further securing them.

You could have heard Dave the Builder all the way to Canada this morning when we had a hungry guest for breakfast.


Total Costs:

Wrought Iron Chandelier:  $20.00

6pk. Terracotta Mini Planters:  $1.24

Birdwatching enjoyment:  Priceless


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