Monday, September 17, 2018

Pumpkin Pretties and Goodies at Williams-Sonoma

It is that time of year when I become obsessed with everything pumpkin....the décor, the scents, and the tastes of pumpkin.  Williams-Sonoma never disappoints with their seasonal merchandise.  These are just a few of the autumn/pumpkin items on my wish list:

These pumpkin crackers will add a fun, festive look to any autumn tablescape.  They are stuffed with a party crown, jokes, riddles, and party games.


Botanical Pumpkin Crackers


I love the colors and print of this tablecloth.  It is machine washable and available in several sizes.

Botanical Pumpkin Orange Tablecloth, 70

The 20" square matching napkins...also machine washable.

Botanical Pumpkin Napkins

The pumpkin-motif porcelain dinnerware is gorgeous!

Botanical Pumpkin Rim Dinner Plates

The mugs would be perfect for sipping apple cider or a pumpkin spice latte.
Botanical Pumpkin Mugs

I already have these adorable pumpkin napkin rings...they can be used now through Thanksgiving and year after year.  They never go out of style.


Pumpkin Napkin Ring

Speaking of the scents of autumn...this candle has pumpkin, with scents of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves!  LOVE this candle.  Pumpkin scent...all through the house!

Williams Sonoma Pumpkin Spice Candle
Pumpkin Spice hot chocolate?  Lord have mercy, this sounds good!  Just combine it with heated milk and voila!  This makes staying home on a Saturday night fun!



Williams Sonoma Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate

Since I fail at making my own pumpkin bisque, I must try this.  All I have to do is heat this soup starter with vegetable or chicken broth.  I think I could do this.

Williams Sonoma Pumpkin Bisque Soup Starter

I need this because I LOVE pumpkin bread and the pecan pumpkin butter sounds delicious!  The bread mix makes 12 muffins or one 4" x 8" loaf.  The butter size is 13.5 oz.  I'm sure that pecan pumpkin butter would also be wonderful on scones or crumpets!

Williams Sonoma Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Quick Bread Mix & Pecan Pumpkin Butter Set

Yes, I think a shot of this pumpkin spice coffee syrup would go well with my coffee!  It will also be delish drizzled over ice cream and pancakes.
Williams Sonoma Coffee Syrup, Pumpkin Spice





Thursday, September 6, 2018

French Onion Soup Etiquette

Onion soups have been popular throughout history.  They were seen as food for poor people, as onions were plentiful and easy to grow.  French Onion Soup became famous in the 18th century with the opening of the gigantic food market Les Halles de Paris.  At dawn, workers and night owls sat together around a fragrant, yet cheap bowl of this delicious and heartwarming dish, made from beef broth, caramelized onions, a large bread slice, and grated and grilled Gruyere cheese.  The first bowls to get reinvigorated, the second bowls to avoid any hangover.  Soupe a' l'oignon (onion soup) has always been Paris's timeless hangover cure!


The "French" in "French Onion Soup" refers to the manner in which the onions are chopped ("frenched")--cut into thin lengthwise strips.
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Personally, I would never serve this soup to guests at a dinner party.  Nor would I order this soup in restaurant.  (Even though most restaurants in my small town serve it as a beef broth, with chopped onions, croutons, and shredded cheese, toasted).  If prepared correctly, it is just too difficult to break through the layer of cheese and maneuver your way through this gooey delight.  It lives up to its reputation as "one of the most difficult foods to eat."
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Although healthier than a creamy soup, the bread and melted cheese in this soup has lots of saturated fat, refined carbs, and a high sodium count.  So there's another reason I wouldn't order this...I don't want my cheat meal to be difficult to eat.
This French Onion Soup Recipe is the perfect appetizer for two! A flavorful beef and onion broth is topped with baguette, parmesan, and gooey swiss cheese! showmetheyummy.com #frenchonionsoup #appetizer

So, how do you eat French Onion Soup?  One of my etiquette teachers, Dorothea Johnson, suggests using a soup spoon to eat the soup, and a knife and fork to cut the cheese on the rim of the soup cup so that it does not trail from the mouth in a long string.  Don't mess with the cheese baked on the outside of the bowl.  Lord have mercy, I'm not going to be using a knife and fork to eat soup!Still interested in serving this soup?  Here's a recipe for you:

FRENCH ONION SOUP

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 8 sliced onions
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 loaf French bread
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

    Sauté onions and garlic in oil over low heat until onions are tender and golden yellow. Sprinkle flour over onions, cook a few minutes more, browning the flour well. Add stock and wine and bring to a boil, add thyme and bay leaf. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for 20 minutes or so. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    Meanwhile, slice French bread into 3/4 slices and butter both sides. Toast slices on griddle until golden brown. Ladle soup into an ovenproof bowl, add toasted bread and cover with cheese. Place ovenproof bowl on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Bake at 350 °F or 5 minutes under a hot broiler.
  • Friday, August 24, 2018

    London Collection at Talbots


    I am in love with the new London Collection from Talbots.  So. Much. Cute. Stuff.  I had to prioritize the items I wanted to purchase.  Until my husband hits the lottery, I can't buy every little thing I love.

    The cute London Destination Tee is on my list.  This is a must-have for me...it will be cute alone, with a denim jacket, or layered under a navy or red puffer vest.  Of course, I'd add a navy/red ponytail bow for me.

    I also love this London City Print Shirt.  It's adorable...would be cute worn alone with a multi-strand pearl necklace, a navy/red cardigan tied over the shoulders, or a navy/red puffer vest.  Again, a navy/red ponytail bow to coordinate.  All things must be matchy-matchy for me.


    How adorable is this London Charm Bracelet?!  I love it!

    Okay, I am obsessed with these brooches...The Crown, Palace Guard, Regal Crest, City Bus, and the cute London Charms.  I need to add them all to my brooch collection!!!  Every one of them.

    Okay, I'm ordering this fabulous London Tote today!  Priorities.  I just can't resist destination totes.


    Do I need these Palace Guard Loafers?  No.  But I want them.  They are too cute!


    There are lots of other items available in the London Collection.  It is all 25% off until September 3, 2018.  Enjoy browsing!

    Friday, August 17, 2018

    What Happens When the Queen Dies?

    See the source image


    The Queen has lived a long, remarkable life.  At the age of 92, she appears to get along better than most people her age, but has recently scaled back her official duties.  It's hard to face the fact that one day she will be gone, but unfortunately, she is not going to live forever.   How will those of us who admire her ever get on?  There will never be another royal quite like her.  She has lived through 13 British Prime Ministers and U.S. Presidents.

    The Queen's death has been recently rehearsed for the very first time by ministers.  The run-through exercise to prepare for the twelve days of mourning was given the code name "Castle Dove" by civil servants and politicians.  'D-1' will be the day after the Queen dies.  Oh my goodness, this talk of the Queen's death is just too much to handle.  Her Senior Doctor, Huw Thomas, will be in charge.  He will have full control over her room as he looks after her in her final moments.  He will even be in charge of what information goes public and what stays within the family.  "London Bridge" will be the secret code for her death. {not very secret now, is it?

    Upon her death, her private secretary, Edward Young, will contact the prime minister with the message "London Bridge is down."  Lord have mercy!  Following their conversation, the news will spread to the governments where the Queen is head of state and the Commonwealth countries--then onto the rest of the world.

    The sheer magnitude of her death will be an event unlike anything else in Britain.  The moment will be a sad one for people all over the world.  Expect people to be shell-shocked, expect mass public grief, and perhaps hysteria.  {ME}  The mourning period will be a disruptive event in Britain for sure.  The chaos is expected to cost the U.K. economy billions in lost earnings and the stock markets and banks will likely close.

    Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, there will be twelve days of official mourning.  The official mourning period will give both government officials and the British public enough time to pay their respects as the royal family makes funeral arrangements for the monarch. 

    As soon as news of Queen Elizabeth II's death goes to press, a mourning footman will place a black-edged notice on Buckingham Palace's gates.  Buckingham Palace's website will also go dark and transform into a single page featuring the same notice.

    See the source image


    When the Queen dies, BBC news anchors are expected to immediately change into funeral attire--a black suit with a black tie {which they have waiting on deck}--to announce the Queen's death to their audience.  For the 12 days between her death and her funeral, BBC and other public channels are strictly forbidden from airing any humorous programming.  Of course, the Queen has picked out specific documentaries about her life.  These documentaries have been pre-recorded and will air on TV following her death.

    Because the throne is never without a ruler, at the moment of Queen Elizabeth's death, Prince Charles will become the King of England and the supreme governor of the church of England.  He will pick his new name from any of his Christian or middle names.
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    And...because there is never NOT a sovereign on the throne, this is why the Royal Standard is never flown at half mast.
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    The union flag will be flown at half mast throughout the mourning period until 8am the morning after the funeral.

    See the source image


    During the twelve days of mourning, the Queen's coffin will be put on display--or in official terms, lie in state--for those who wish to pay their respects.  The Queen will lie in state in Westminster Hall for 4 days.  It is estimated that almost a million people will walk past her catafalque.

    The day before the funeral, male members of the royal family will stand guard for a short period in a ceremony known as the Vigil of the Princes.  This will be a sad day for the U.K., the Commonwealth, and the World.

    Vigil of The Princes, 8 April 2002
For The Queen Mother’s lying-in-state The Earl of Wessex (left), The Prince of Wales (center), The Duke of York (right) and Viscount Linley (not pictured, on the other corner) came to pay respects to their...
    Male members of the Royal Family stand guard at the catafalque of Queen Elizabeth I

    The Queen has been actively involved in planning parts of her funeral, which will be sure to be a elaborate event.  Her body will be transported via gun carriage to Westminster Abbey for her funeral, where it is planned that Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, will lead the funeral service.

    See the source image
    Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
    See the source image
    Westminster Abbey
    The final resting place for the Queen might be next to her mother Queen Elizabeth I and her father King George at St. George's Castle.  Another option is for a burial at one of her private residences like Balmoral or Sandringham.

    Even though Prince Charles will become the King of England upon Queen Elizabeth's death, his coronation will not be held until one year later.  And...I'm pretty sure they have the new words to the National Anthem ready to go.  {sniff sniff}

    Sad post over.



    Wednesday, August 15, 2018

    Royal Tea

    Since it is National Afternoon Tea Week in the U.K., I decided to enjoy a tea here in Georgia today.  Actually, I am having a "Royal Tea."  What is the difference between an "Afternoon Tea" and a "Royal Tea?"  A "Royal Tea" is also served in the afternoon and in addition to serving savories, scones, and sweets, a special dessert is also offered.  A glass of champagne is offered along with hot tea.

    This book "Tea Fit for a Queen" was my inspiration for the tea, as I'm sure Queen Elizabeth II serves a "Royal Tea" to visitors at Buckingham Palace.

    "Tea Fit for a Queen" is published by the people at Historic Royal Palaces, with narratives by Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator of the charity.  Historic Royal Palaces is an independent charity that manages some of the United Kingdom's unoccupied royal palaces; i.e., Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Banqueting House, Kew Palace, and Hillsborough Castle. 

    This pretty little book reveals how the tradition of afternoon tea started in royal Britain.  Recipes for finger sandwiches, Victoria sponge cake, Chelsea Buns, and a Champagne Cocktail are some of the royal recipes included.  Naturally, the recipes are beautifully photographed, but the measurement quantities are U.K. based.  So, if you are in the USA, you will need to convert the measurements.



    I decided to use my Franciscan 'Desert Rose' dinner and tea ware for this tea.  I think any china pattern with a rose motif is so pretty at teatime.

    Menu
    Savories, Scones, and Sweets
    Apple Cobbler
    Champagne Cocktail
    Royal Palace Tea

    {
    I used the book's recipes for Cucumber and Mint Sandwiches, Egg Mayonnaise Sandwiches, and Champagne Cocktails}

    Etiquette Tip:  The savories {sandwiches} are always placed on the bottom tier and eaten first; followed by the scones eaten next from the middle tier; and the sweets from the top tier.  Don't forget to take dainty bites!  Take small bites, sip a little tea, and make pleasant conversation.

    The Royal Palace Tea may be purchased at Harney Tea...it is delightful, as one would expect!


    I hope you have enjoyed your visit today.  Tomorrow, I will be back with a very sad post.  "What Happens When the Queen Dies?"


    The Queen’s Fashion

    Have you ever wondered how the Queen always looks so elegant and majestic?  This beautiful book "Dressing the Queen" tells the story of the Queen's royal wardrobe.  The author is Angela Kelly, Personal Assistant, Advisor, and Curator to the Queen.


    Angela Kelly is often described as the "Queen's Gatekeeper." The daughter of a Liverpool dockworker, she served in the Army before joining the royal household as a maid.  Divorced and twenty-five years younger than the Queen, she has become a confidante to the Queen.  She has been the Queen's personal assistant since 2002 and is one of the few people who can lay hands on the Queen.  As for handling the Queen's wardrobe, she has a meticulous eye for detail and understands the Queen needs to wear something that sets her apart from the crowd.  She plans the Queen's official and private wardrobes and is the curator of Her Majesty's personal jewelry collection. 


    The Queen's wardrobe is planned months in advance.  Wardrobe diaries are kept with the details of the outfit and events at which it was worn and it takes a Logistics Team (handled like a military operation) to handle the packing and transportation of her luggage when traveling

    Stewart Parvin is the Queen's royal dress designer and has worked with her since 2000.  He choses fabrics that do not crease and are fully lined so that they don't. Day dresses are designed to stop just below the knee.  Cocktail dresses are just below the knee or ballerina length.  On the day of an event, the outfit will be laid out with a handbag, gloves, shoes, and a hat.  A matching headscarf will also be added, just in case the hat gets wet in the rain. 

    The Queen favors dresses/suits over skirts and blouses.  She can't be bothered adjusting a blouse that may have come untucked when exiting a car.  Her trademark is monochromatic color with matching coat and hat and her signature style of suits/dresses (with weighted hemlines) has withstood the test of time.


    When the Queen steps out in public, she's usually wearing a hat designed by Rachel Trevor-Morgan.  Ms Morgan has been the Queen's milliner since 2006.  The crown of her hat can be higher and sharply angled so that everyone can easily see Her Majesty but not so high as to cause a problem getting in and out of the car.  Of course, no hats after 6pm...but a headpiece or a tiara is de rigueur at a state event.
    See the source image

    The Queen has an umbrella to match every single one of her outfits...transparent (so everyone can still see her) with a colored handle and edged trim coordinated to match the color of her outfit.   Of course, now I need umbrellas to coordinate with my outfits!


    The Queen's handbag of choice?  A Launer Bag. She owns more than 200 of them!  As one would expect, her bags are bespoke with a longer handle and black appears to be her go-to color.  Rumor is that she uses her handbag to signal her staff when they need to intervene on her behalf.  Her Ladies-in-Waiting carry her necessities such as extra stockings, medicine, band-aids, etc.  The Queen carries lipstick, a mirror, reading glasses, and mints.  She only carries cash on Sundays...to place in the collection plate on Sunday.

    Gloves are a staple of the Queen's iconic style.  Forget everything I have ever told you about glove etiquette.  The Queen ALWAYS wears gloves.  You cannot wear them all the time.  She can.  She is the Queen of England. 

    Since 1947 Genevieve Lawson's family, Cornelia James has been the Queen's official glove maker.  She first wore their gloves on her wedding day in 1947.  Since the Queen shakes approximately 45,000 hands per year, hand gloves are needed to protect her hands from dirt and damage while shaking hands all day.  She loves the classic-style gloves, wears only black or white, cotton and nylon, and they must be washable. 

    Also forget everything you have heard about handshaking etiquette.  When greeting the Queen, the rules are different.  You never extend your hand to the Queen.  When she extends her hand, a simple touch is all that is done...no shaking, squeezing, or patting with the other hand.  FYI, Just in case you ever meet the Queen.

    Image result for queen elizabeths gloves

    The Queen's swoon-worthy collection of brooches is every girls dream!  She has taken the old-fashioned brooch and made it a must-have accessory. You can view tons of them on Pinterest, all stunningly beautiful and truly made for a Queen.  My favorite?  The Flower Basket (shown in the photo below).  I think it is exquisite and oh-so prissy!   And...I adore this photo of the Queen.  It reminds me of my mama...the hairstyle and the outfit. Not to mention the lovely three-strand pearls!  


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    What shoes does the Queen wear?  She has worn the same Anello and Davide pumps for over 50 years.  The Queen spends all day on her feet and can't exactly walk around complaining that "her shoes are killing her feet," now can she?  What is one to do?  Well, she has a servant to "wear in" her shoes!  Yes ma'am!  You KNOW that is NOT a rumor.  Oh, to be the Queen.

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    The Queen is a wonderful example of aging gracefully.  You can see from her photos through the years that she did not color her hair.  "Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is attained along the path of righteousness." Proverbs 16:31

    Bright colors, soft makeup, being well-groomed, and apparently an excellent skincare routine have kept her youthful for her age.  God Save the Queen!

    Thank you for visiting with me today.  Tomorrow I will share an afternoon tea setting to celebrate National Afternoon Tea week in the U.K.