Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fired Works!!


Do you love the special feel of handmade items?  Do you love pottery? I certainly do and I am lucky enough to live in a city, which has hosted an annual regional pottery show for the last nine years.  It is called "Fired Works" and my sister and I headed to Central City Park in Macon on Monday to view the incredible works on display.



Here is my sister inviting you to join us, as we meander through the rows of fabulous original works.  I enjoyed having my sister along, because she is a stained glass artist, among her other artistic talents. She has a more detailed eye, mainly because she has all of the artistic talent in our family (can you see me pouting???).  I am more of an art history type of girl, so we are a good mix.



This year, the show started on April 26th and runs though May 4th, so there is plenty of time left to attend. Around 70 artists are participating and I know everyone can find the perfect ceramic piece for themselves or a gift for someone else.  It probably is a good thing that no shopping carts are on the premises or I would have been in real trouble! If you would like more details about the show or the accompanying events, you can read about them HERE. Information about the participating artists can be found on the website, too.

This post is going to be heavy on photographs, so sit back and prepare to be dazzled!



 Do you like large pieces of ceramics? There are so many at this show!




 Would you prefer something smaller?  These adorable tiny teapots would thrill my granddaughters.  I am sure their American Girl dolls would love them, too. They are just the right size!



Oh, about the teapots - my sister loves them, so we took quite a few photos of those. How we adored all of the unusual shapes and the cute details!


Perhaps, you prefer lots of color - you definitely can find bright colors at Fired Works.



Aren't these pieces absolutely amazing???? Did you notice the MacKenzie-Childs look-alike candle holders?

In the South, we have a tradition of potters making face jugs. At Fired Works, my sister and I discovered potters who are continuing to make the traditional face jugs and potters who have new ideas about faces on ceramic pieces. This was my favorite - the expression on this face is exactly how I feel some mornings!!



Here are some others:



Fired Works is presented by the Macon Arts Alliance and GEICO. Macon Arts Alliance is a huge part of an active arts community in Macon and I want to pause here to thank Jan Breeland, Executive Director of the MAA, for allowing me to photograph the pieces for Confessions of the Obsessed.  Also, many thanks to Kim Schnell for her kind reception and help.

Did you think that I had overlooked tableware at the show? No way!! Here are some interesting examples of those pieces:



There were pitchers, plates, mugs, bowls, covered baking dishes, etc.! One potter had made a dish (see above with sunflowers) to serve cheese balls and a recipe was included. So clever!!

Well, I had better stop now, so you will still have time to visit the show. I would have loved to have shown you all of the 227 photographs that I took, but I must leave you something to discover!!  Please, please attend, if you are anywhere near Macon. You are in for a treat!! This is a regional event and well-worth the effort, especially if you are obsessed with pottery - oh well, just one more obsession for me!!!

Have you been wondering what I bought?





I purchased this magnificent ram teapot by Bob Marable of Watkinsville, Georgia. Obsession, indeed (!), and you know brown is my favorite color!


Diane



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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring Salad - Yum!!!


Most of you probably have realized that I do not cook often.  However, I recently discovered the most delicious salad that I think I have ever eaten!  It is Trisha Yearwood's Strawberry Salad and I will share the recipe at the end of the post. Trisha Yearwood is a singing star who is now married to Garth Brooks.  Her home town of Monticello, Georgia is near where I live.  Sadly, the closest that I have ever come to seeing her was once in Monticello, when I was passing through with a group of school children that I had driven on a field trip.  We stopped at the local Dairy Queen and her bus pulled up just as we were going into the restaurant. We were so excited, but no Trisha - only her "roadies" who were stopping for a treat!


Not only does Trisha's salad taste wonderful, but it looks beautiful!  I love the way the red strawberries look against the green spinach and Romain lettuce.



Since I set this table for Kathleen of Cuisine Kathleen in response to her latest challenge of setting a Spring table, I supposed that I should discuss the tableware a little, before getting back to the food! I used a Ralph Lauren tablecloth that I have had forever. Sorry, but I do not remember the pattern name.  On top, I used older beige placemats and a new Bordallo Piheiro "Cabbage" charger.  The dinner plate is "Pearl" by J C Penney from Replacements and the salad plate is a wonderful piece that I discovered at Maryland China in their clearance section.  I love the pattern of pretty Spring flowers and the reticulated edges.  These plates are by Thun.


 

I used emerald green "Momento" napkins by Sferra, flatware by Barenthol, "Delilah" water goblets by Schott-Zwiesel, and a green balloon wine glass by an unknown maker.



The beautiful cut crystal bowl was a gift from a member of my husband's family.  Oh, how I love this piece!!



Now, for the good part - the recipe for the salad:

Trisha Yearwood's Strawberry Salad (serves 6)

Ingredients:

Salad
1 package of Ramen Noodles, crushed, flavor packet discarded
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (I use sunflower kernels, already roasted - more about that later)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 head Romain lettuce, washed and dried
1 5-oz bag baby spinach
1 pint strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Dressing
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

Salad
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix the crushed Ramen Noodles, almonds, sunflower seeds (or kernels) and melted butter.  Transfer to a baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

*** My note.  If you use the pre-roasted sunflower kernels (I use Planters Dry Roasted ones), wait until after baking the other ingredients to add them or they will burn.  I just add them into the mixture, coating them with the butter, after removing the rest of the mixture from the oven.  Also, after the first time that I made this, I cut down on the amount of butter stated in the recipe.  I had to blot the mixture with many paper towels, because I thought the mixture was too greasy.  However, this is something you can do "to taste", I think.***

Tear the lettuce and combine with the spinach, strawberries and cheese in a large salad bowl.

Dressing
Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar.  Combine the oil, paprika, salt and garlic and then add to the sugar-vinegar mixture. Mix well and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Just before serving, sprinkle the crunchy topping over the salad greens and toss the salad with enough dressing to coat.

*** One more note from me.  I do not eat salad dressings, so I cannot vouch for this one. I did make it once with a little garlic power, instead of the actual garlic and someone asked for the recipe.  However, the other times that I have served it to guests, I have used a high quality raspberry-walnut vinaigrette that I purchased at the store. I really do not think it matters, since the salad and topping are so fabulous!***



I do hope you enjoy this recipe just as much as I have. It is one of those fabulous recipes that you can personalize - the next time I prepare it, I am going to add some Mandarin oranges.  I would love to know what would you like to add to suit your taste...

Diane




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Monday, April 14, 2014

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny Come to Easter Lunch



When I first spotted these gorgeous Dena Home "Marrakesh" napkins at Tuesday Morning, I knew that I would use them for our Easter lunch. The design was so bright and cheerful that I felt that Spring had truly arrived. After inviting the family, I decided to add a couple more guests.

Since the Easter bunny has treated so many children through the years, I decided to invite him and his lovely wife to join us.  I imagined that he would be hungry, after delivering all of those eggs and gifts on Easter morning.



When they arrived, Mr. Bunny brought us gifts of eggs he had left over in his basket and Mrs. Bunny arrived with an umbrella.  I guess, she had been watching the weather report more closely than I!



As I was setting the table with my Galway "Longford" iced beverage glasses and my Circlware turquoise wine glasses, I noticed something peculiar...



Another set of bunnies had appeared on my table.  Oh well, I thought, I will let them hop around the table serving salt and pepper! They seemed happy enough with their new assignments and I continued setting the table.



The plate stack that I chose for my guests included a Maxwell and Williams "Paint" charger in pink and a Fitz and Floyd "Carissa Paisley" dinner plate in blue.  On top, I used a  J C Penney "Conventry" pink salad plate.



The silver flatware is "Imperial Queen" by Whiting.

I went into the kitchen to fetch a pink footed "Teardrop" compote by Indiana Glass to use in the centerpiece and, when I returned, guess what I found????



Another Mrs. and Mrs. Bunny!  Did I forget sending out another invitation?  Do I have enough plates on hand??  My, these bunnies are multiplying as fast as - well, rabbits!!



After filling the compote with pretty pastel eggs, I looked at the table to see what else I needed to add.

You guessed it - another bunny couple had appeared!



This couple was so small that I almost did not notice them at first.  They had really sweet faces, so I did not mind so much that they were crashing my party!!

Actually, I had a brilliant thought! All these bunnies needed to go somewhere, so I decided to use them in my centerpiece!  



I did not think they would mind showing off their Easter finery for a while.  Actually, I thought they would enjoy it! They looked pleased with my surprise.  However, they had one more surprise in store for me.



All of my egg cups had been filled with pink bunnies!


Imagine my surprise!  Then, it became clear that the bunny couples had brought along their children and they were all girls! Not a future Mr. Easter Bunny among them.  Well, it is about time that a lady has the opportunity of being the Easter Bunny!  I cannot wait for these baby bunnies (did you know the correct name is kits or kittens??) to grow up to see which one gets the job.  



After considering the evidence, I think that I have solved the mystery of how all of these bunnies were invited to my Easter lunch.  Does this lonely little bunny napkin ring look slightly guilty to you? 



Any way, the bunnies are darling and well-behaved.  They look happy parading on the table and I think that my family will be happy dining here.  I hope that you and your families (and any unexpected guests!) have a wonderful Easter!!


Diane







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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Birds, Nests and Eggs - Oh My!!


Once, again, Kathleen of Cuisine Kathleen has issued a challenge. For this link-up, Kathleen has requested that we set a table using Birds, Nests or Eggs.  My question to myself was, "Why stop at one?", so I used all of them!







I found these adorable bird salad plates at Tuesday Morning.  They had only three designs, but these were originally part of a set of  plates featuring reproductions of John James Audubon's birds of America. They  were created by I. Godinger for the National Audubon Society. Actually, they are identified as "dessert plates", even though I will use them for salads - wouldn't you love to have the entire set??

I know that black dinner plates seem strange for Spring, but each salad plate had black in the design and I liked the way they popped on the dark color.  I shot this post on a very cloudy day and shooting in my dining room is always a challenge, so the photos are not as well lit, as I would have liked! I simply must get my friend, Mona, of The Hidden Art of Homemaking to help me pick out a new camera and teach me how to use it!!  If you would like to see her beautiful photographs, you can visit her blog HERE.


 


I do love birds, so I already owned this beautiful "bird" box that I use in my family room to conceal television remote controllers. I thought it would be a fun centerpiece on this table.




Other birds in white and green found their way to the table.  Who doesn't love birds, when you see them - real or faux???



For the nests, I used individual nests that I purchased at Jo-Ann's and added a bit of moss to them. I looked everywhere for tiny eggs, but could not find any, so I resorted to candy ones.  Win/win for me - I had plenty left over for the edible nests that I make at Easter. I, also, used a larger nest with eggs on the table, but I did not get one acceptable photo of that - sigh!






I was excited, when I started putting this post together, because I quickly realized that my Fostoria topaz "Versailles" water goblets would be perfect additions to the place settings.  I love this crystal and, if you have read my blog previously, you know I have a "slight" obsession with Fostoria products.  The topaz-colored "Versailles" pattern is really interesting.  The "Versailles" etching was used on several different colored blanks (rose, blue, green and topaz).  All of the blanks had the #5098 stem, except for the topaz one.  They used the #5099 stem for it.  I have no idea why, since all of the "Versailles" pieces were made around the same time - mainly 1928-43. Here is where it gets interesting, though.  The same #5099 stem was used on the topaz "Trojan" etching and the rose "Trojan", too.  This is probably too much information for most of you, but it is so fascinating to me!  Who made these decisions and why?  I do love a good mystery!!



This is a photograph of the "Trojan" etching. I own a couple of these water goblets and use them with "Versailles", when I am hosting a meal for ten people.




I decided to use my very Spring-like, sterling flatware pattern, "Bridal Flower" by Watson.  This pattern was made in 1910 and created by Joseph E. Straker, Jr., just at the end of the Art Nouveau period. The details on these pieces are incredible!



Now that Spring has finally arrived (the dogwoods and azaleas are blooming!!), this table is not just a dream! Birds are everywhere chirping and singing outside and it feels wonderful to hear them so happy.  If Spring has not arrived where you are, I would like to assure you that it is coming and you are in for a treat!!


Diane




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