A Lovely Weekend Meal – Courtesy of Moi, and Jacques Pepin

“Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.” – Julia Child

 

The weekend is here.  Hopefully, the weather is beautiful where ever you may be, and it is spring.  Therefore, it is time to do things, other than spend great amounts of time in the kitchen.  So, this morning I am sending you a tried and true menu, complete with recipes I believe you and your family will love.  You may just even receive a WOW – I promise you they will be impressed.

The Menu

Gruyere Cheese Souffle 

Spinach Salad With Goat Cheese and a Raspberry Vinaiagrette

Crusty Bread

Wine – Whispering Angel Rose (A Cotes de Provence Rose)

Dessert – Your Choice of Ice Cream

Gruyere Cheese Souffle – Jacques Pepin

3 Tbls. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing

2 Tbls. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

3 1/2 Tbls. all-purpose flour

1 cup cold whole milk

5 large eggs, separated

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

2 Tbls. chopped fresh chives or 2 tsp. dried chives

Preheat the oven to 400.  Grease a 1-quart gratin dish with butter and dust with Parmigiano;  refrigerate.  In a saucepan (very large), melt the 3 Tbls. of butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute.  Whisk in the milk, bring to a boil and cook, whisking the entire cooking time, until thickened – about 1 minute.  Remove from heat, then whisk in 4 egg yolks along with salt and pepper.  Reserve the remaining yolk for another use or discard. 

In a clean bowl, beat the whites until firm peaks form.  Whisk 1/3 of the beaten whites into the sauce mixture, then fold in the remaining beaten whites.  Fold in the Gruyere cheese and chives.  Pour mixture into prepared gratin dish.  Bake for 25 minutes, until puffed and golden.   Serves 4 – nicely.

The souffle resting on the block in our kitchen.  A glass of wine pairs nicely with cooking.  

Spinach Salad With Goat Cheese

Ingredients:

Spinach, red onion, pecans, strawberries or blueberries and goat cheese.

Arrange desired amount of spinach (I use baby spinach) in individual or serving dish.  Add sliced fresh strawberries.  If nice strawberries are unavailable, blue berries will work fine.  Then top with thinly sliced red onion, sprinkle with coarsely chopped pecans and crumbled goat cheese.  Serve with a Raspberry Vinaigrette.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup Raspberry Vinegar (no substitutes)

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. oregano

salt/pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together.  I usually make this an hour or two before serving, to allow for the flavors to blend together.

 

Serve the souffle, salad, bread, and, if possible,  with my choice of wine – Whispering Angel.  Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel is a beautiful Cotes de Provence Rose.   If you are unable to locate it – any good Chardonnay will be fine.

 

Bonappetit ! 

Thanks for visiting, wishing you and yours a lovely weekend!

Au Revoir,

Sandra

Note:  The salad and dressing are my recipes

Photo:  femininity blogspot.com/pinterest/clubdgv.blogspot.ca/pinterest

My Walk, Down The Garden Path

“Put your hand in mine and let us help one another to see things better.” – Claude Monet

I do love the garden.  Having my hands in the cool damp earth of spring is a pleasure – one I will never take for granted.  Seeing a tender plant grow into maturity,  therefore making my vision a reality, truly makes my heart sing.  But, I want to tell you this joy came by the way of much failure and success.    “My walk, down the garden path,”  as I believe to be the walk of many gardeners, has been full of exhilarating, heartbreaking and lots of  in between, moments.

There are many things I have learned in my forty plus years of gardening.  The two I believe to be most important are:  1) Plant for your planting zone.   2) Educate yourself about the plant you are interested in, before purchasing.  Or, as my husband so often says to me, “Sandra, when all else fails, read the directions.” Goodness, have I learned that one the hard way. Yes, I have.  I remember planting a flat of fabulous impatiens directly in the boiling sun of coastal Virginia.  Also, while living in this beautiful part of our world, I was determined to have a lilac. Well, I did, until one July arrived.  The sky opened up with rain, daily, for the entire month, and, I watched my lilac – wilt and die.   And, there were other examples, all heartbreaking – all due to my failure to read and educate myself.

However, I was not defeated.  You see, I had my mother, who was a magnificent gardener, and wonderful co-workers/friends who were also magnificent gardeners.  Mom was 380 miles away, but a dial away on the phone.  And, I could see my friends daily.   So, armed with mom and my many passionate gardening friends, gardening knowledge was to be mine.   In addition to all the help from mom and my dear friends:   I read everything I could put my hands on, visited gardens both public and private, and worked at mastering my craft in my every spare moment.

Along with wonderful memories of times shared with mom, that I will forever treasure, I also treasure my many dear friends I have made through gardening.  These friends are like minded, wonderful souls who have graced the walk on my path.  And, I see many of them every spring when the plants they so generously shared with me happily bloom.

Our sweet garden also holds one of my great passions, and that is peonies.  My love affair with peonies began when I was thirteen years old and saw a red one in bloom in the garden of one of mom’s friends.  I can still remember the house and where I was standing, when I was struck by the glorious beauty of the plant.  And, so, that very moment was responsible for my falling in love with this outstanding plant.  Even after all the years I have grown peonies (since 1983), I still become giddy with excitement when I see their red shoots peaking through the cold, spring soil.  I know heavenly beauty will soon be arriving in our garden.

Today, I hope you have found “inspiration that will bloom.”   Cherish the “walk down your garden path.”  And, remember the walk is all about the beauty you will see and the friends you will make along the way.  Especially, remember to share your garden and plants, so others will remember you.  Sharing is the true beauty of a garden.

Thanks for visiting – love and hugs to you !

Au Revoir,

Sandra

ps.  Do share your garden stories, and, remember if you have questions – please ask.  I will try and help.

        The peony in the photo above is Courage.  She is one of my favorites, and blooms in our garden.

Photos: homedesignlover/pinterest, ellenzee.tumblr.com/pinterest

Spring, Beautiful Spring

“The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.  The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.” –  Henry Van Dyke

Good Morning Everyone:

Wake up – it is the first day of spring ! Spring is such a glorious time of year.  And, I hope where ever you may be, you will take a moment to welcome this day, and the wonderful new season.

So fix your coffee, curl up, and reflect on all the many, lovely days ahead.    Dream,  and become inspired!

Thanks for visiting today.  Wishing you and yours beautiful days, during this most special season!

Au Revoir,

Sandra

Photo:  Images of me/Pinterest

Tending our Gardens

“Whether people are fully conscious of this or not, they actually derive countenance and sustenance from the “atmosphere” of the things they live in and with.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Good Morning Everyone:

Even though it may still seem like winter for many of you, take heart, spring is near.  And, she will soon arrive in full, glorious bloom.

This morning, I would like to share the words of someone I greatly admire – Alexandra Stoddard.  My husband and I had the great pleasure of spending time with her and her husband several years ago.  A special and wonderful time, I will write about later.  But, today I want to share her words about “Tending Your Own Garden.”

“Plant your seeds and cultivate your own garden.  Everyone who does so is wise, because happiness is centered here.  Our house becomes a home when we love it.  Our home can always be in bloom, full of springtime, fresh beginnings, plants growing, and happiness flowering.  Paradise is right here, right now, day by day.  Our homes are our ideal earthly paradise.  Give your home your all, feed it with beauty, color and light:  treat all your objects with respect and dignity.  It is here that we create paradise; it is here that we are nourished by our sacred refuge, our physical environment we love that loves us back.  Our homes can be so enriching that we choose not to leave at all and to take our vacations there.”

So today, take a look around your home and decide how well you are “tending your garden.”  Does she need attention?  If so, spring is all about new beginnings and is the perfect time to think about your  special place.  The place which gives you shelter from the world.   And, the place where you derive countenance and sustenance.

Thanks for visiting – have a beautiful weekend !

Au Revoir,

Sandra

ps.  Always happy to assist or answer any gardening or interior design questions you may have.   You may contact me here on the blog under the comment section, or click on Contact and send me a message.

Photo: davesgarden.com/Pinterest

Stoddard quotes from her book:  “Choosing Happiness”

Inside Thoughts

“Everyone has, inside himself…what shall I call it?  A piece of good news!  Everyone is…a very great, very important character.”   – Ugo Betti

Good Morning Dear Friends:

I was doing a bit of Sunday afternoon reading yesterday, and came across the above quote by Ugo Betti.  I believe his words to be true.  Unfortunately, I don’t feel we all believe this about ourselves and others.  But, wouldn’t it be great if we did?  Imagine what could be accomplished in our world if we did look at ourselves and others, as though we were all “very important characters.”

I believe we can choose to swing the pendulum in a new direction and make our world a kinder, more loving place.  Each and every one of us has something special and unique to offer, “a piece of good news.”  And, by using our unique talents, we add joy and a touch of grace to our lives and to the lives of others.

So, as you begin your week, think about what makes you unique.  Perhaps, it has been far too long since you have given that person a thought, but she/he is there waiting for you –  to use your beautiful gifts.  And, in the words of Paulo Coelho, “People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they DREAM of.”

Thanks for visiting.  Wishing you a Beautiful week !

Au Revoir,

Sandra

Photo:  Chic Fragments Too/fb

Restoration of our Senses

Good Morning Everyone:  Happy Friday!

The weekend is ahead, and it is time to dream – become inspired!

Even though the weather forecasters have promised winter for our weekend, here in North Central West Virginia, spring is just around the corner.  It is time to watch the earth come alive and to be in the garden.  Being in nature is a dose of medicine for our spirits, it always makes us better.  It provides us with what we didn’t know we needed – beauty.  And, it “restores our senses,” sight, sound, taste, smell and touch.

So, today I am sharing a few thoughts of others.  Thoughts, I have written down over the years in my “pretty little book.” 

Sense of sight:  “There is no spot of arid, bare, or ugly, that cannot be tamed into such a state as may give an impression of beauty and delight.” – Gertrude Jekyll

Sense of sound:  “The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.” – Elizabeth Lawrence

 

 

Sense of taste:  “The first gatherings of the garden in May of salads, radishes and herbs made me feel like a mother about her baby – how could anything so beautiful be mine.  And this emotion of wonder filled me for each vegetable as it was gathered every year.  There is nothing that is comparable to it, as satisfactory or as thrilling, as gathering the vegetables one has grown.” – Alice B. Toklas 

 

Sense of smell:  “When I was a boy, I thought scent was contained in dewdrops on flowers and if I got up very early in the morning, I could collect it and make perfume.” – Oscar de la Renta

 

Sense of touch:  “I who cannot see find hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch.  I feel the delicate symmetry of a leaf.  I pass my hands lovingly about the smooth skin of a silver birch, or the rough, shaggy bark of a pine. …I feel the delightful, velvety texture of a flower, and discover its remarkable convolutions; and something of the miracle of Nature is revealed to me.” – Helen Keller

“The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.” – Hanna Rion

I hope you are inspired to possibly join me in the garden, plant a few flowers or herbs for your deck or patio, or go to the park and simply “be.”  Where ever you are – enjoy the glorious season about to unfold.

Thanks for visiting – have a beautiful weekend!

Au Revoir,

Sandra

 

 

Photos:  fotki.yandex.ru/pinterest, Davolly59 on flickir/pinterest, Abigail Danner-gardening/pinterest, springs favorites-Midwest Living/pinterest/Budget plants.com,pinterest

Thought for the Day

 

 

 

 

 

“But beauty is a beam from heaven, that dazzles blind our reason.” – Thomas Campbell

I do hope you have a lovely day, Love and Hugs to You!

Au Revoir,

Sandra

Photo:  suchprettythings/pinterest

Planning Ahead

 

Good Morning Everyone :   And, Happy Monday !

With bulbs bursting through the ground, buds on the trees beginning to swell and blue skies shining – Easter can’t be far away.  And, it is just around the corner, April 16.  Maybe it is all the years I worked outside the home, or maybe it is just me, but I like to plan ahead.   Planning ahead alleviates stress, and we all know life is happier without stress, especially around the holidays.

When I think of Easter Sunday, I think of a lovely sunny day, a gentle breeze and glorious spring flowers in bloom.  And, I do love to see them blooming on the table.  With the weather being as fickle as it has been this year, it is hard to pin point exactly what will be blooming.  Additionally, if you do not have flowers available to you from your own garden and it is necessary for you to purchase flowers, trying to determine what will be available to purchase in the stores is difficult.

So, let’s think about pansies.  Pansies are readily available at most all garden centers this time of year.  I love pansies, they are so happy and come in such pretty and varied colors.

  

I love to see a small clump of them in a tea cup or mug placed at each setting on the table.  Pop in or tie  a hand written name on a place card and you have added a special touch.  This also makes a sweet gift for your guests to take with them when they leave – memories of the day.  Everyone loves a little present.  So, now is the time to start shopping the thrift stores.  You can find very inexpensive tea cups or mugs at these stores, or perhaps give your cupboards a thorough look, you may have on hand something which would be nice to use.   Unless your china is plain without any pattern,  I would shop for a solid color or colors, which would coordinate with the color of your china and linens you are planning to use.

 

And, for the center of the table you can place several little pots of pansies, with some moss tucked around, in a large bowl or tureen.  Add a candle to either side and you have created something beautiful! Scatter a few votive candles about and you have magic.

Easter is a time of new beginnings.  It is a time to recognize and truly see the beauty God has placed on this earth for us all to enjoy, and to see the beauty in the faces of those seated at our tables. It is a time to savor everything, everyone and every moment.

Thanks for visiting today – Have a gorgeous week – Love and Hugs to you!

Au Revoir,

Sandra

 

 

 

 

Photos:  Pink Pansy in cup/Fatinia.tumbir.com

Pansy in mug/Petitmilou.exblog.jp 

Pansies in bowl, centerpiece/Rene Zieg-Cottage &Vine/pinterest

Weekend Wishes

Good Morning Everyone:

My post is a day late, due to some computer issues.  Technology is so wonderful when everything works as it should, and it is absolutely maddening when it doesn’t.  And, yesterday was one of those maddening days.

The good news about the day was, it gave me a chance to catch up on some reading.  I don’t know about you, but things seem to fall into my hands.  Really, they do.  And, yesterday, while trying to remain calm and quiet in the middle of chaos, I opened a magazine to the following quote:

“Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.” – James Allen

There it was, just what I needed to read.  So, this morning as you begin your weekend, I wish you “calmness of mind.”  Scatter joy, and I hope you find joy in the little things!  Also, I am sending you a treasured recipe.  Just in case, you would like to treat yourself and those you love to a bit of delightful goodness on a Sunday morning.  Enjoy!

English Cream Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbls. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup cold butter, diced

1 cup cold whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a baking sheet; set aside.  Handling ingredients as little as possible, in a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Blen in butter with a pastry blender until crumbly.  Add cream, stirring just until dough sticks together.  Turn onto floured surface.  Knead 5-6 times gently.  Divide dough in half and pat each into a 6″ circle.  Cut across (pizza style) each to make 8 triangles.  Place on baking sheet.  Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Serve with your choice of preserves.

Note:  I often make this into one circle, I like the scones a little thicker.

Thanks for visiting today, have a beautiful weekend – Love and hugs to you!

Au Revoir,

Sandra

Photo:  Suchprettythings.typepad.com/Pinterest

Spring Musings

“And Spring arose on the garden fair, Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere.” Percy Bysshe Shelley

Good Morning Everyone:

It is time to wake up, scatter joy, listen to bird song, and think of the glorious days ahead!  Yes, spring is almost here.  And, with spring knocking on our door, it is time to begin to think of the garden, projects around our home, family gatherings, and how we want to enjoy this beautiful season.  The list will vary for each of us – but I am sure everyone has their list.

I don’t watch much television, but I do enjoy a few programs and one is:  HGTV “Fixer Upper,” staring Chip and Joanna Gaines.  Mainly, I enjoy the program because, in my humble opinion, Chip and Joanna are “real.”  They are light hearted, and I enjoy seeing their finished product.

All this being said, my husband picked up an issue of their magazine, Magnolia Journal, while grocery shopping.  He is the best man, and he loves to grocery shop.  Truly.  Plus, he always checks the magazines for me.  Just one of those sweet  things that goes a long way, in the long haul.

So, back to Magnolia Journal.  If you have not seen or purchased a copy, you might want to do so.  It is lovely, inspiring and a worthy read.  And, there are a couple of things from this issue (Spring, 2017),  I want to share today.  One, is a list of Joanna’s thoughts about welcoming spring.  And, they are as follows:

Make Room for What Matters

Breathe Deeply

Tidy Up

Learn Something New

Choose Simplicity

Keep Growing

When I read her words, my initial  thoughts were:  She is real, and she is a girl after my own heart.  Her advice is wise, and gives one much to consider.  I especially love: Make Room for What Matters, Learn Something New and Keep Growing.  Personally, I believe these are three BIG items.  Our lives often become too cluttered with activities/commitments that really don’t matter.  As well as,  our homes often become too cluttered with “things” that don’t matter.  Both require editing, and often.  And, I know first hand, from my mother and grandmother,  learning something new and keep growing are two secrets toward a long and happy life.

Additionally, I am also sending you a recipe from this issue which is truly decadent, as well as easy.  A lovely dessert, or perhaps a reward for hours spent “tidying up,” or working in the garden.

Affogato Aficionado – ENJOY!

1 scoop of high-quality gelato or ice cream , in a short glass or coffee cup

2 TBLS. hot expresso or strong coffee, poured over ice cream

Drizzle with chocolate syrup, salted caramel sauce, or honey

Suggestions for ice cream:  cinnamon, hazelnut, chocolate or vanilla

Note:  Affogato is Italian and  means, drowned.  Coffee ice cream is also an excellent choice – I know.

Thanks for visiting today.  Have a beautiful week.  Enjoy your own, personal thoughts of spring, and should you need just a wee nudge of inspiration…….

“If you dream it, you can make it so.”  – Susan Branch

Love and Hugs to you.

Au Revoir,

Sandra

Photo:  Better Homes & Gardens/Denny Schrock/Pinterest