old linens and dishes… oh my!

DSC_0404Well now that I spent a full weekend running around junking, barn picking, and antiquing with friends I actually have to clean the stuff up!

The old large depression glass era bowls that I snapped up at the Smithfield Barn for $6 and $8 cleaned up in a jiffy and will get put away until I need them at Christmas.  DSC_0411

I have a thing about people who talk about setting a beautiful holiday table and then use plastic bowls, mismatched and plastic cutlery, and either paper or plastic plates. And yes, I get the lament that you have kids, it takes more time and so on and so forth.

Guess what? My mother and most of my friends’ mothers used real silverware, linens, and dishes and so on for the holidays and we did not destroy the stuff. Yes it requires more effort, but it looks so much better. And why go to the trouble of cooking up a storm of fabulous in your holiday kitchen to have it look like a Wawa?

paper platesI have probably just insulted a whole slew of people, but I can’t help it.  To me it is like an insult to what comes out of the kitchen.  A woman I used to know used to do that.  She would half-set her table with aluminum foil pans just plunked on the table at Thanksgiving and never met a paper plate  she did not love.  But her “good” dishes were brown crockery and they looked like mud so there is no accounting for taste.  Seriously though? Paper tablecloths are for picnics and kid birthday parties, and even then I prefer real table linens.

So now all my vintage Christmas linens are soaking in Woolite. I generally use that or liquid Ivory Snow now.  I used to have these soap flakes that came in a blue and white box but I can’t remember what they were called, nor do I see them in the grocery stores now.  I will carefully rinse them and hang them up to dry and then iron them.  I know a lot of people send their linens out to be laundered by the dry cleaner but with vintage linens that often leads to yellowing.

And let us get into the cost of things.  I am a bargain hunter.  I might love good old linens and dishes and so on but if I am at a Flea Market or garage sale or something similar I will walk away from things I know are overpriced for what they are and more importantly WHERE they are.  Whether it is an old tablecloth, a platter, or even vintage Christmas décor do not be afraid to ask for a best price or bundled price if you are buying a few things.

I have found everything I need for this Christmas as far as how I want my table to look, and the things I wish to decorate with.  It will be slightly retro Christmas, but there is something to be said about that simple and pretty look.

Of course now I will spend the next few weeks agonizing over menus.  Am thinking of doing a country pâté since I scored that cool commercial loaf pan.  And of course lots of cookies!

Taking the time to set your holiday tables with real dishes and linens pays off. Another thing – if you are having a crowd a buffet is fine if you don’t really have the space for sit down. I would rather my guests be comfortable than knocking elbows at the table because they are crammed in like

What are you all planning for the holidays? Do we want to do a cookie recipe exchange on this blog? As in send your favorite cookie recipe in via a comment and so on? Let me know!

call it a tablescape and I might have to hurt you

In the Sandra Lee-ification of America we can no longer just set the table for anything, let alone a holiday.  It is a “tablescape” or worse yet a “holiday tablescape”.

It is a phrase to me that is like nails on a chalkboard. It brings up visions of outfits that match kitchen decor that matches seasons and unless you are Sandra Lee or Barbie who the heck does that???

It also reminds me of a Christmas party we went to every year as a kid.  The entire family had matching/coordinated outfits and the wife always had them all lined up at the staircase by the front hall door when you entered – like they were the Patridge Family or something.  My old, old friends will know exactly what party I am referring to.  We. All. Went. Every. Year.  Mind you the wife in this equation has long since remarried and we think she just settles now for matching her and hubby #2 to decor.  Does white marble come in pants I wonder?  She’s a tablescape kind of gal.

I am sorry, I know I am being supremely irreverent. The phrase tablescape just does it to me…like when people say too often that is how they “roll” (I wonder, are they a wheel of cheese or something?)

I am all for dressing up the table and having fun but we call it setting the table in my neighborhood.  Sometimes with a centerpiece, sometimes just a collection of fun candlesticks or oil lamps.  And I don’t need Martha Stewart to tell me how to set my table, either. Lordy women of America!  It’s not rocket science, just have fun.  As long as the cutlery and glasses aren’t plastic and the plates paper, it’s all good.  That is the stuff picnics and cook outs are made of.

So anyway, my table was looking for some vintage Thanksgiving fun, so I stopped into a new favorite local haunt, Frazer Antiques.

I found the cutest vintage turkeys – they are salt and pepper shakers only I am just using them on my table as a decorative touch.  I also wanted inexpensive vintage dishes for dinner.  Found those too – Steubanville Adam Antique.

And best of all, I finally found a turkey platter I couldn’t kill.

And speaking of Frazer Antiques, they have a holiday sale starting November 23rd which runs through December 31st! 

They have a special Holiday Open House on November 30th from 3 pm to 8 pm.

Frazer Antiques is located at 351 Lancaster Avenue, Frazer, PA 19355 –

(610)-651-8299 and they are open daily (except holidays) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Check them out.  They are loaded with all sorts of fun stuff! And as one of the most frugal women in captivity when it comes to antiques and vintage collectibles I can honestly tell you the pricing is pretty darn good and a lot of stuff has wiggle room. And they must be a go to place for holiday table accessories because while I was there this afternoon a couple of husbands were sent in by their wives to hunt for extra serving pieces and other table accessories.

are cupcakes safe to discuss?

Hello cupcakes!  Greetings on a rainy Sunday morning afternoon (started earlier and got distracted).

So listen, I seem to have inadvertently upset people by discussing current events in Tredyffrin and some of my random act of consciousness where politics are concerned.  I would apologize, except this is my blog .  It really is ok for a woman to like home crafts like cooking and want to discuss politics and current events occurring in local municipalities.

So that being said, I recently discovered Himalayan Indian Grocery in Exton (Marchwood). They have a fun assortment of oils, spices and teas and chutneys.  Some fresh produce (they have some unusual varieties of eggplant), some dairy (you do have to watch for expiration dates) and a large frozen section of all sorts of Indian foods.  I also found rose water to bake with there – hadn’t seen that in a while.  Anyway, I bought a Tandoori marinade pouch that I mixed with plain whole milk Indian yogurt, and made delicious Tandoori chicken which we grilled.  To accompany that I created a Jasmine rice with a blend of curry and masala spices and raisins, chopped almonds, a smidgen of fresh basil.

Now to the cupcake of it all….

They are, I will warn you, semi-homemade from the cupcake side.

Creamsicle Orange Cupcakes with Coconut & Ginger Butter-Cream Cheese Frosting

I made 24 cupcakes.  I started with a Duncan Hines Orange Supreme Cake Mix.

I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl I added 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon of vanilla or orange extract (pure not imitation), 4 tablespoons real mayonnaise, 6 tablespoons honey, 3 eggs, 1/3 cup canola oil.  Mix with mixer until blended and a bit frothy.  Add cake mix, blending on low until mix incorporated and then about a minute and a half on med-high.  Add 1/2 cup shredded coconut to batter.  Incorporate.  Pour into cupcake tins lined with cupcake liners – the recipe will make 24 cupcakes. When a toothpick comes out clean, the cupcakes are baked.

Bake 18 to 21 minutes (as per cake box directions).  Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes before carefully removing cupcakes.

When cool, frost.  I already told you how to make my frosting in the banana cake recipe. OMIT the banana and cinnamon and add 1 teaspoon ginger.  Also add 2 tablespoons orange juice.

These are cupcakes that keep best in fridge in a cupcake container – the frosting will melt when too warm.

Feel better now?

But seriously, this blog is a mixed bag.  So it is and never will be all Suzy Homemaker – after all I am not all Suzy Homemaker. I blog first and foremost for myself as this is my creative expression.