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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Surprise Salad for Halloween

We always have a Halloween Dinner Party and invite different people each time.  Part of the reason we keep the guest list new is to keep the "Surprise" part of the "Surprise Salad".

Here are the simple ingredients.  Yes, that is a spider on the cutting board!  For each person you are serving, use four leaves of endive or narrow bibb lettuce.  I prefer Belgium endive but it was sort of sad looking today.  Cut the bottom ends off squarely so that the spears are all the same length.

Lay two spears in your hand, slightly overlapping.

Then pile some small greens, or spring mixture which you have slightly chopped, some dried cranberries, and a plastic spider.  I just cut the spider off of a halloween ring.  You can find them by the bag in most party stores.  Add anything that you wish for the salad, but nuts get kind of limp from the moisture in the lettuce.  (Live and learn!)

Put two more spears around the greens, completely encasing them, and use a rubber band to hold them.  Place it on a level surface and squish it around a bit to make it stand up straight. 

Tie a pretty ribbon around the bundle and remove the rubber band.  This ribbon is printed "Happy Halloween" and it came from Michael's.

If you want to garnish the plate, use sesame oil and put orange drops around the plate.  Then sprinkle with black sesame seeds.  Needless to say, this looks best on a white plate.

Here's your salad.  When they are served, have everyone untie the ribbon and the leaves fall down.  Use any dressing you like, but keep it clear, like a vinaigrette, and pass it at the table.  It usually takes a little while before the first person spots the spider!  We have had some really wild reactions. 

Now you know why it is called "Surprise Salad"!  I usually make them all up early in the day and store them in a plastic container that has straight sides.  I just plate them in the kitchen as everyone is sitting down.

Here's last year's place setting.  I'll post more about the table next week.

Be sure to see:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Eggplant and Transfer Tablescape

Many followers have asked me where I get an inspiration for a tablescape.  Well....sometimes it is beautiful china, fresh flowers, a piece of fabric, or a special occasion, but this time it was this 2 1/2" eggplant!  I was at a farmers' market and came across these and thought they were quite interesting.  I bought a dozen or so of them and as I drove home, I mentally assembled a purple and cream table.  It never occurred to me to eat them, I knew immediately that they were meant for a tablescape.

Lavender mums are always easy to find, and so are cream roses, so I knew the centerpiece I would use.

And here these little guys are, nestled in the flowers, held in place with a wooden skewer stuck into the oasis.

These graceful cream pottery urns first made their debut at our older daughter's wedding, and I find they are great for many things.  I suggest them for basic tableware if someone asks.  I have also given a few of them away used as a container for a gift basket.

Clarice Cliff made this English transferware called "Rural Scenes".  I am so drawn to transferware, but this was the last color I began to collect.  I don't have much of it, but I am always on the lookout for this pattern.

Even though this is English in origin, I think this subject matter is sort of French.  Love the rooster!

Here's another scene......

but the best part is this border design.

 I used it with this cream colored china from Pottery Barn.  Of course.......acorns!!!

The tablecloth is just a basic one from a restaurant supply house, and I topped it with aubergine colored round straw mats from World Market.  Then I used this cream flatware.

This pale purple glassware finished off the setting.  I can't remember where I got the stem, but the tumbler with the fleur de lis is from World Market.

This matching linen napkin is also from World Market and I just folded it lengthwise and slipped it between the dishes to give the setting a little more contrast.  And besides that, I didn't have any napkin rings that I liked with them!

Mr. Pressed Pants and I just had a simple pumpkin soup and rolls with this, but it was a tiny bit special with this setting.

Be sure to go to Between Naps on the Porch for her Tablescape Thursday blog party.  There will be lots and lots of inspiration, especially for Halloween. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Folk Art at Serenbe

I thought I'd share with you some of the folk art that we found at Serenbe.  I've posted about this wonderful spot just thirty minutes from the Atlanta airport.  It's a community that is a leader in land perservation, organic farming, farm-to-table dining concepts, green building standards, and water conservation.  All of this and incredible beauty!  I spent several wonderful days there this week with my bridge group. We had the most relaxing time staying at the Inn which is a grouping of lovely little cottages.  This charming chicken scupture greeted us in the common room.  He made me smile every time I saw him.

Across the room was this colorful piece that made me think of eggs and toast.

The guest service reception area held this great oil of some of the cattle on the grounds.

This isn't really folk art, but part of an old sign.  We found it out in the garden.  I love the paint finish on it.

All throughout the lawns and pastures there were surprises in the form of sculptures or humorous groupings. 

Back in the cottage, this goat held court in the common room.

Adam and Eve are a popular subject for folk art. The sofa table held this grouping in front of the quilt hanging on the wall.

Look!  Polka dot pigs in the kitchen! 

This old piece sits on the top of the refrigerator.  Does anyone know what it is?

And down in the village are some pieces that are waiting for good homes.  These are found at the "Bilt House" shop.

Serenbe Village

Yesterday's post was about a girls' trip to Serenbe and the place we stayed.  Today I'll show you more about the Serenbe Community.

When staying at the Inn at Serenbe, just a walk down a lovely road past this sign is the village.  Walkability is paramont to the idea of being better stewards of the land.

This lamp post is an example of the creative, unique way of thinking the developers used in this community.  The whole area has outdoor lighting regulations that prohibit light pollution. 

Here's another example of making the ordinary stop sign artistic and interesting.

Oak leaves and acorns are found throughout the signage. 

Here's an example of the charming retail area.  All of the storefronts are made up of a variety of attractive building materials.  They use geo-thermal heating. 

As far as I'm concerned, it's a huge plus when a community is dog-friendly!  We saw this sweetie several times in a couple of days.

The Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop is soooo cute.  And it is the smallest Silver LEED certified building in the nation. 

This is The Hil, one of three award-winning restaurants.  They support the farm-to-table concept.  We had dinner here the evening we arrived and, oh my goodness, the lamb dish I had was one of my top five dinners ever.

What's better than a store that sells wine and chocolate?

The Bilt-House has unique clothing and fun accessories. 

This darling residence is just down from the retail spaces.  All homes are EarthCraft Certified, observe composting, recycling and have underground trash cans.  There are no lawns and no chemicals.  The native plants and organic landscaping support the concepts of authentically green living.

Many homes have this type of charming detail.

I am guessing that Serenbe has some type of halloween decorating competition, because these places were really decked out for the holiday!

This resident was anxious to show us his friend before he left to go to the Thrashers game.

How about this guy?

Have you ever seen such beautiful stables?  With these beautiful riding trails, I'd want to keep a horse here too.  At least 70% of Seranbe's 1000 acres will always be preserved green space, so those trails will always be there to enjoy.

Tomorrow I'll do one more post on the folk art I found at Serenbe.

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