If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Planning the Menu

Thanksgiving is this week and as we ate breakfast this morning, Mike and I mapped out our menu.  When we finished up his delicious sausage, bacon, eggs, biscuits, and gravy, I moved the laptop to the table and began my grocery order.  Yep, I love ordering and picking up at the store parking lot!  It makes grocery time much more bearable.  Now, if I just had somebody to transport the bags of loot from the truck to the kitchen.  I know, I know.  I sound like - If You Give A Mouse A Cookie...

Of course, Mike is going to cook the turkey - we have certainly had some adventures with that!  He was tempted to try out his new wood pellet grill  to smoke it but we loved the fried version last year.  So, we are going to give that a go again.  Can't wait!  I already have the bird and have been searching for the bucket I use to brine him in without success.  I just remembered that I also couldn't find that bucket when I made pickles back in the summer.  So, a new bucket will have to be rounded up. 

It seems my menu is a little casserole-heavy but about the only time I make some of these dishes is at Thanksgiving.  So, things like my Southern Cornbread Dressing,

Sweet Potato Casserole For A House Divided

 Classic Green Bean Casserole,

and Hash Brown Casserole quickly made the list.

To that, we decided that we would have good old Mac-and-Cheese, cream-style corn, Cranberry Congealed Salad, and rolls. 

For dessert, I think I'm going to go with pies this year.  I can do those ahead and who doesn't like a good old southern pie?  I'm leaning toward Classic Pecan Pie, Fudge Pie, and Layered Pumpkin Pie.  YUM!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Friday, October 12, 2018

Cleaning Old Treasures

With many of the old pieces Mike and I have been handed down from our mothers, we have had to do a bit of cleaning and scrubbing.  One such item that needed a bit of cleaning was an old number three crock Mom gave me.
 It had been sitting outside and had loads of dust and bugs and crud inside it.  It was also pretty dirty on the outside and had something that looked like dried rust on it.  So, I started researching to see what the best method for cleaning it without harming the glaze might be.

I first washed it with dish soap and hot water.  Then, I tried a mixture of vinegar and dish soap.  Finally, I made a paste of baking soda and water and gave it a little scrub.  Then, I added a bit of peroxide to the paste and scrubbed with a plastic scrubbing pad.  Voila!
I had no idea what I was going to do with this crock but now that it is clean, I didn't want to hide it away.  So, for now, it is sitting on the kitchen counter holding a collection of rolling pins. 
The one on the left was one of Mike's grandmother's.  The center one was made by a neighbor and given to me in 1981.  The neighbor's wife brought it to me when it was still warm off the lathe and smelled of lemon oil.  The center one is a modern one that I got when I graduated high school and left home.  The old square Atlas canning jar was filled with trail mix but a couple of little mice must have nibbled at it!
Hanging on the wall behind the bread basket and these other items are the milk permits that came out of our old milk barn where I was raised.  They are a bit brittle and one crumbled quite a bit but I smile every time I look at them and I think my Daddy would be pleased that they are in matching frames and hanging on my kitchen wall.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Heirloom Silver

One of the things Mom gave me recently was a pile of silver pieces that we had won as awards back in the days when we were exhibiting cattle at fairs and shows.  I think all of it is silver-plate and all of it was badly tarnished.  I hated to see it go to Goodwill or somewhere like that but I also hated the thought of polishing all of it and had no idea where I would store it especially since we were consolidating or getting rid of all the things in the basement to make room for Mike's mother to move in.
For a while it sat in a stack on an extra chair and I simply ignored it.  Then, I set it down inside the flour/corn meal bin to get it out of sight.  Then, one day back in the summer I ran across a post by Ann Drake at the blog On Sutton Place.  She made cleaning silver seem more approachable than it had been years ago when Mom would have us use an old T-shirt, stinky silver polish, and lots of rubbing and scrubbing so that the pieces could be used for a friend's bridal shower or wedding reception.  So, I decided to give her How to Clean Silver Naturally method a try.
I am a believer in Ann's method!  Oh, there was still a good bit of rubbing and polishing required but I think maybe that was because the pieces were so tarnished.  All of them had so much tarnish that they had a black look to them like the bowls stacked above.  I know that tarnished silver as decoration is quite trendy right now, but, like Ann, I really like the shine of the silver when it is cleaned up.  In the center of each tray and on the side of each bowl is engraved something like Champion and the year - most of them are from the 1980s.
As you can see, they all cleaned up pretty well!  I took just a couple of pieces at a time and placed them in the hot water, baking soda, salt, aluminum foil solution and let them soak for about ten minutes.  Some pieces got soaked twice.  Then, I took a little toothpaste and worked on the places where tarnish was still clinging.  A quick rinse with hot water, dry with a soft towel, and I set them on the table to dry - and easily admire.

 The clean pieces sat on the table for a couple of days while I tried to think of where to store them.  I decided that I wanted to try to put as much of it to use as possible.  I don't mind using the trays to corral things or draw attention to a collection since I think it will be fairly easy to clean now.
One tray went to the guest bath as seen above to corral a wax scent burner/night light, a mug for the grands' toothbrushes, a crock with lavender sugar scrub, lotion, and a candle.  Later, I thought the size of it would be better for another little collection and was replaced by an oval one that can be seen in the corner of this photo.  (You can also see how I added a little bit of fall to the guest bath with that ceramic pumpkin.)
The smaller round one went into the front guest bedroom to corral my childhood blue and white tea set - or what is left of it.
One tray went to the den to corral a trio of items on the ottoman/coffee table.  I did a bit of a switcheroo and used a little larger tray later.
The larger tray fit well on the ottoman/coffee table.  So, I had to do a bit of thinking to decide what to do with the one that was here.  It was a bit older and was awarded for a different reason than having a fine cow.
That tray is one that I won as a showmanship award the year I graduated high school.  I teased my daughter-in-law that I was going to give it to her for Christmas along with my high school drape portrait.  Instead, the tray got moved to the kitchen.  I put a command hook on the back to loop a burlap ribbon through and hung it on the front of the china cabinet.  The bay leaf wreath that was hanging there had started to look faded and tired because it was so dry.  I liked the look of the greenery hanging there.  So, I moved a preserved boxwood wreath there but it just lacked substance.  Rather than going out and buying a larger preserved boxwood wreath, I think the silver tray added the bulk that was needed.  Plus, it added a bit of sparkle to the front of the cabinet.  I simply wrapped a piece of twine around the boxwood wreath and hung it down in front of the tray.
Some of the other trays are scattered around the house and used to group a few items together and a little narrow one sits on the base of the china cabinet and holds a twig pumpkin right now.  The juxtaposition of the shiny silver and the rustic natural twig pumpkin looks nice.
If you look closely into the china cabinet, you can see that I have four of the smaller trays propped up in the four corners of the cabinet behind a china plate.  The little bowls are stacked inside the cabinet as well because I couldn't think of a purposeful way to use them right now.  At some point, maybe I will, though and knowing that they are pretty easy to clean makes me not be concerned about them just adding a little sparkle to the kitchen.

It makes me smile a little bit that I could come up with a practical use for something like a silver tray award.  So, my 'heirloom silver' that was awarded to us for having outstanding cattle once again has a part in our life.  And maybe when the time comes for the grands to honor their friends with bridal showers or use at wedding receptions, we can easily clean it up and make it purposeful as well as sparkly and pretty!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Adding a Little Fall in the Kitchen

I try to refresh the rooms where we spend the most time by changing out some little pieces that give a nod to the season.  Even though it hasn't felt like fall in Tennessee, yet, I decided to add a little of the season to our kitchen anyway.  The places I always start with are the table centerpiece and the mantel.
The blue jars on the mantel got a good wash and I added a couple that had been hanging out in the basement kitchen.  They both are commemorative jars created to remember America's Bicentennial in 1976.  They were my Granny's and the quart one has a little card inside that tells the story of their origin.  Behind those are the three antiques with zinc tops that have been setting there for years.  The quart one was mine and Mike had the other two when we married.  To the left of the jars, I added some antique school books that were Daddy's and atop them is a coffee grinder that was Mike's maternal grandmother's.  Inside the drawer of it are several matchbooks.  We don't know if they are there because it was her storage place for matches or if she was collecting them.  But, when I give it a seasonal clean, I just return them to the drawer and smile.  I added a ceramic monogrammed pumpkin that Bridgette gave me the first year after Mike and I married.  On the right side is an antique pint Atlas jar with zinc lid that came from Mom, a little antique glass-top jar, an old milk bottle Mike had, and a couple of large Pepsi bottles from the days when Daddy kept one setting at the end of the milk tank for refreshment.  The cream pitcher is a Longaberger one I had and the blue crock pitcher Mike's mother gave us.  She said it was used by Mike's grandmother to keep the milk in.  The blue and white bird planter came from my Granny and the little enamel pot holding a blue and white pot with greenery below it came from Mikes grandmother.  I always seem to notice the yellow tinge in some of the stones of the fireplace more in the fall maybe because I add warm tones to the mantel.  That was the inspiration for my painting the kitchen the warm, buttery yellow. 
Mike's mother gave him this antique dining table and ladderback chairs that were handed down from his paternal grandparents.  The table is a piece he has always loved and was excited to put in our home.  It is a beautiful piece and the grandchildren especially like the lazy susan aspect of it.  We had a rectangular table here.  I have several long table runners that I had used on the old table.  So, when I started adding fall to the kitchen, I went to the closet for one of them.  The ones I made several years ago with orange in them were both long enough to drape across the old table and hang down the sides a bit.  I quickly realized that wasn't a look that would work with this table.  So, I made do.
I just did a little artful scrunching and let it be.  Later, I might spend a little time revamping some of the table runners I made and making them into placemats or shorter runners but for now, a scrunch is OK.  I topped the runner with some Southern Living candle holders that I bought years ago and added a few orange baby boo pumpkins to the pretty blue and white balls Bonnie gave me that had been her mother's.  The pumpkins and balls sit in a dough bowl crafted by my brother-in-law, Dwayne.  The wood for the dough bowl was once a log that served to hold the floor up in the oldest part of the house where I grew up. 
I added a twig pumpkin to the little silver tray which sets on the china cabinet and it gives a rustic feel and some texture to the glitz of the silver and china stored there.
The last little nod to fall is a little wicker pumpkin that I set inside an antique blue transferware bowl that Mike's mother gave me.  This serves as the simple centerpiece for the little drop-leaf table where Mike and I eat most of our meals.

For now, these little refreshes have perked up our spirits and made us feel like fall at least while we are inside the air-conditioned house.  Outside the temperatures are still in the high eighties and nineties and it sort of takes our breath when we step out the door.  I'm sure I will be wishing for these days when it is freezing this winter but right now, I'd love to have a little bit of fall showing up on the thermometer outside!