Grandeur Dining Rooms

“Dining with ones friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul satisfying and eternal.” ~ Julia Childelegance2

I have such extraordinary memories growing up as a child, my heart filled with such joy  of all the times my parents treated us to a captivating, elegant, royal tableaux and luscious meal.  On those special occasions,REL6 my mom would always decorate the dining table with radiant, candescent candles, freshly arranged red roses, soft , dim lighting, white or powder blue linen table cloths with newly starched and ironed napkins, her treasured Haviland china with its delicate design, festooned beautiful momwith petite pastel roses, her polished choice sliver and stellar Waterford crystal. (I would always be ‘right there watching her every move’)  just in case she needed my help in any way.)  🙂

Her meals were not only legendary, chimerical but heartening and comforting.  I think my top three,REL3 (and I have to choose three as I can’t possibly pick just one,) 🙂 was her homemade spaghetti, (and no, we are from an Irish, not Italian descent,) beef brisket with potatoes, carrots and onions, and from her Southern heritage, a savory and first class, dreamy lump crab casserole. She baked plenty of ambrosial breads, created, hearty delicious salads, (her homemade avocado dressing was gourmet,) and her desserts were decadent… Pecan pie a’ la mode, rich, dense chocolate cake topped with a mocha frosting,  fudge brownies with pecans and real whipped cream, and french Vanilla Ice cream, drizzled with Chambord  liqueur. (I only got a ‘taste’ at that time.) 🙂 REL1The ‘older kids’ shared in a glass of wine, while my  younger brother and I had our  beautiful goblet of ‘boring’ milk. 🙂  For some reason, it did not look nearly as delicious as their sparkling white wine in the classy and regal crystal.)

For very special occasions, I also remember my parents taking us to some really upscale eateries in California that made me feel so pampered and special…like a princess for the night.REL I especially loved The Reuben E. Lee , ( a 19th century Paddle boat docked  upon the Newport bay.)  It was called the “floating, elegant restaurant.” (My dad would always order me a ‘Shirley Temple’) and they  always served freshly made popped corn.  My other favored place to go was the Five crowns in Newport beach. Not only is their English decor absolutely exquisite, but their prime rib is to die for.REL8  Once, while living in South Carolina, they took us to a beautiful seafood eatery, nestled upon the water, in the renowned and historical city of  Charleston and ordered us all lobster tails with melted butter on the side.  To my surprise, I loved it! As a little girl,  I never enjoyed lobster when my parents bought them fresh and then had to boil them all in the Brobdingnagian  pot as those humongous critters were REL7“still kicking.” I’d run out of the kitchen and yell out to my mom, “I will just have salad, bread and extra potatoes tonight for dinner.”) 🙂

 

 

There is just something so special about dressing up a room and table with “your best” of everything…creating a felicitous meal, sitting with loved ones, laughing until your jaw aches, sharing stories of yesteryear, eating delectable cuisine until you are stuffed and watch as the last tall, lambent candle’s flame has demised. REL9 It is a gift that you can give yourself, your husband, your family, boyfriend, girlfriend or guests. Having a special occasion such as a birthday, holiday gathering, anniversary celebration or an intimate night with friends is a wonderful landmark to build your fancy dinner around…but I like to do it “just because” on some nights as a special gift to my husband and I..(And Grantham too if we have steak, chicken or salmon, as he impatiently waits for his portion, drooling like there is no tomorrow.) 🙂

I am hoping to share with you in this vignette some very  grandiose dining room ideas as well as share one of my mom’s stupendous recipes with you, to bring forth a few inspiring ideas of how to give yourself as well as loved ones a “fine and regal” dining experience.

 

 

DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNER Adorable Baby Boy in Suit on Cellphone

 “You never forget a beautiful thing you have made,” (Chef Bugnard  said.) “Even after you eat it, it stays with you-always.” ~ Julia Child

Bon Appetit!” ~ Julia Child

“It’s so beautifully arranged on a plate, you know someones fingers have been all over it.” ~ Julia Child

“If More of us valued food and cheer and songaudry2 above hoarded gold, It would be a merrier world.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien ~ Author of The Lord of the Rings

“Come quickly! I’m tasting stars.” ~ Dom Pierre Perignon tasting his first sip of his newly created champagne.

“I have a renewed commitment to elegance, she said, in case you think I’m just spending money for the fun of it.” ~ Brian Adreas

“Enchant, stay beautiful and graceful, but do this, eat well. audry7Bring the same consideration to the preparation of your food as you devote to your appearance. Let your dinner be a poem, like your dress.” ~ 18th century French author Charles Pierre Monselet

“Certainly one of the important requirements for learning how to cook is that you also learn how to eat. If you don’t know how an especially fine dish is supposed to taste, how can you produce it? ” ~ Julia Child
Are you ready to visit  some grandeur dining rooms? 🙂
If you are a History buff, a connoisseur of antiqued chandeliers, silver candelabra, soft white candle light and a warm, regal ambiance, this elegant dining room is the perfect place to plan a festive reunion with loved ones… Absolutely Gorgeous!
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Both of these par- excellence dining rooms are fiercely grandiose and would undoubtedly make each guest feel coddled and pampered. The first photograph is one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever seen with it’s  amazing vaulted ceilings, arched hallways, divine, shiny wood flooring, awesome paned windows with it’s breathtaking view, the original and choice sconce lighting, and stellar hanging chandelier. It truly looks as if Royalty lives here. The second dining room is of course a classy and graceful eatery…All the work and preparation is done for you to perfection. The only thing that awaits you is ‘pure pleasure.’   I adore the floral topiary tree. (Just creating one of those and placing it amongst a white linen table cloth would be a wondrous start to your elegant setting. ) 🙂
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This vintage dining room is exquisite. I could see this table festooned for a ladies intimate dinner…  It’s ambiance creates the feeling of an exciting wedding celebration! 🙂  I love her white, sheer, lace window treatment, her collection of diverse candelabras and the  hanging chandelier is absolutely top-of-the-line! What makes this room beautifully rhapsodic is it’s ‘style,’ a special touch being the unique linen tablecloth with it’s picturesque, entrancing, “Shabby Chic” corners.   Any guest  having dinner in this lovely, ageless dining room would feel very refreshed and catered to.
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Already blessed with an amazingly gorgeous view, this grandeur dining room is certainly a treat for any of it’s dinner guests . The soft lighting is perfect for a romantic dinner amidst the blithesome and canty flower arrangements, candescent candle light and stunning china. In our dining room, we have a hanging Chandler, (very casual in it’s presentation,) but it has a dimmer switch which allows us to make our intimate dinners cozy, enchanting, warm and sung! Its a great investment! 🙂
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Don’t you feel as if you have stepped back in time as you look upon this  exhilarating and rousing dining room? I can just envision George Washington and his family dining in a room like this as he lived within his Mt. Vernon, Virginia estate… The vaulted ceilings and gorgeously paned window treatment  alone, would keep me enjoying extra cups of coffee after dessert, just to stay at  the table and ‘take in’ this  exquisite and lovely ambiance. This fireplace is stirring with it’s baronial mantle as well as intricate  architectural design. The divine hanging chandelier unabashedly announces it’s glory with it’s jeweled accents, the lively and poignant array of choice flowers amongst the delicate, regal white table settings, classic crystal and refined, polished sideboard is breathtaking! I love this patina!   army56

The repetition of ‘gold’ in this dining room is within itself elegant and grandiose. The table setting is eye-catching with it’s red and gold plates resting snugly upon a gold charger, accentuated with the golden candle sticks and silver serving piece… Did you notice how this decorator has dauntlessly mixed in some blue crystal glasses as well as natures divine greens amongst her regal and rich colors?  The soft candle light and vintage table clock are riveting .  This room is gorgeous and brings an abundance of new ideas of how to create your evening of enchantment and beauty.   army70

 Historic and eminently LOVELY. The lively topiary tree, buoyant yellow roses, vintage portrait and floral painting amidst the enveloping window treatments and alluring view is magical and inviting. I remember when one of my brothers was engaged, he was given a tablecloth much like this and I was so envious! (Very  happy for he and his fiance, but boy, did I want that table cloth.) 🙂  It’s breathtaking and exudes the very essence of  elegant dining. I adore the gregarious flower arrangement centerpiece,  latticed, two tone linen napkins, prestigious goblets, and absolutely stellar, majestic and graceful china. I bet there has been many a lovely, congenial and delightful meal shared around this table. 🙂
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This delightful centerpiece with its gilded fruits, august three tried plate stand, gold candlestick holders with their appeasing candles and dainty and recherche china, catches the eye immediately! Again, this decorator has chosen to use the gorgeous color of gold as the rooms  main color palette with touches of white, reds and yellow. I have always loved adding  a baronial, winsome wing back chair to a dining table…It’s unique, inviting and comfortably complimentary.
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This majestic dining room brings a tune from Burl Ives to my mind. You know, the song in our children’s  beloved and cherished, (and the little kid in all of us too,) ‘Rudolph the red nosed reindeer’s,’ “Silver and Gold, silver and gold, everyone wishes for silver and gold…”  (It truly is a great movie.) 🙂 I love the white, stellar built in shelves, the golden candelabras, and tall candlesticks, the elegant white linens and the abundance of silver trays, goblets and table decor. Absolutely gorgeous!
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Though a table set for the glorious Christmas season, this dining room looks as if it is right out of a classic film… delightfully viewing this winning and par-excellence dining room sparks an abundance of wondrous ideas on how to bring about a stunning and grandiose dining experience for the holidays or any special occasion for that matter. The sideboards, festooned with  graceful swags of garland and fresh, enlivening  flowers, the strikingly bedecked fireplace mantle, festive red bows tied upon the chairs, and a vibrant red table runner to highlight the eloquent white linen table cloth is beautifully inspiring.  The  soft, glowing candle light  amongst the rich, dark woods is warm and graciously welcoming. I love it!
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I am always in awe with ‘white table-settings!’ This tableaux is quite simple but also enchanting and regal. I am impressed with the diversity of candle holders the gilded pears amongst the greens, as well as the creative, artful and clever, floral centerpiece. Great ideas!
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Another holiday gathering…The first impression, with these absolutely gorgeous and  rich wood, paned French doors is “explosively beautiful!” 🙂 I love the antiquated art work and their gold frames, the polished, cozy dining table with green and red accent tones and the cleverly done, blue trim upon the doors. Very lovely and warm!
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Not a typical dining room, yet just as charming. Many a time, especially when all the kids have grown up and moved away, dinner is held in the ‘parlor,’ ( our living rooms with our table set up cozily by the fireside, or perhaps now a days, our  widescreen TV’s.)  🙂 This historic room is congenial, royal, welcoming and evokes a beautifully convivial ambiance to each guest who comes to share an elegant dining experience. 🙂
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Another holiday bedecked dining room…(with a cheerful little visitor.) 🙂 Valentines day would be a perfect ‘motif’ for an elegant and grandeur evening meal with friends or family! This decorators color palette is lovely with it’s shades of red, green and white , highlighted with magical touches of gold. The green foliage upon the vintage mirror is classy and graceful. I love the red place mats upon the white linen cloth and the eminently unique and original fire engine red candelabra.  Beautiful room with a wealth of great decor ideas.  🙂
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So many elegant and grandiose dining room ambiances use the never failing and magical ‘muse’ of Christmas for their amiable and spirited presentation.   This dining room is classically done…I love the jeweled, enchanting hanging chandelier, garish and exuberant Christmas tree, cobble stoned fireplace, vintage chairs, dark woods with the motley table setting in pastel rose, green and diverse shades of glorious red. The centerpiece is refreshing, inviting and the silver goblets, historically festive! Very stunning!
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One of the popular and innovative, beautiful pieces of furniture for your elegant dining room ambiance is the baronial and courtly sideboard. Not only is it a lovely piece of furniture but it is also a place to festoon with beauty, using your regal and captivating  decor, as well as displaying decadent desserts, hot bread baskets, side dishes and beverages upon.
This side table is dressed in magnificent and fresh greens, kaleidoscopic china coffee cups and exquisite silver. It is a spirited as well as sanguine addition to this dining room.
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This side table is absolutely euphoric. You do not see many sideboards arrayed in this kind of beauty…The vintage mirror is captivating with it’s antiquated design and elfin, floral swag… the tall, elaborate silver candelabras are classy, almost hypnotic, and  the decadent, showstopping freshly baked cake is comfortably resting on this sideboard, tempting every guest! 🙂   Absolutely romantic and junoesque.
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These two sideboards are tasteful and luxurious, but are warm and inviting as well. Both displays capture your eye with their diverse and lovely floral arrangements and the opalescent glow of the tall candles with their dancing flames. Two wonderful ideas to dress up your room for that special fete.
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Brilliant, magical, enchanting and filled with charm. A winning sideboard table for any dining room patina. Golden candlelight, reflected in mirrored glass is always a top-of-the-line decor addition to bring forth warmth, magic and a bit of romance. 🙂 army40

Lastly, my adored topiary tree festooned with bedazzling roses…and the cake…HEAVENLY! This sideboard’s ambiance is one of the Victorian era, alluring and full of romance. (The trees are very easy to create and yet look as if they are straight from the florist shop.)  🙂army31

I just read an article on elegant dining by the ‘Fine dining editor’ of the Examiner, George Singeltary. He stressed that what we are looking for when we ‘go out for a night on the town’ to enjoy an elegant getaway and delicious cuisine is three things… We want great service, great food and an a great ambiance to relax in. These are all wondrous gifts that our favorite eateries graciously offer us, but we, as well, can create the same, memorable and convivial experience right in our very own homes to bless our friends and family with, free of charge. I hope this vignette has inspired you with some new ideas on how to bring forth an elegant and grandeur dining room, providing a place for your  resplendent and delightsome evening with your loved ones.

I want to leave you with one of those superb dinners I was telling you about earlier in the blog…from the deep blue waters of the Atlantic ocean…luscious lump crab casserole! You can used canned lump crab, but it will not be as scrumptious! 🙂

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YOU WILL NEED: one pound of lump crab meat, make sure there are no shells within your crab, 4 large eggs, (beaten) 3/4 stick of butter, 1 green pepper, (chopped finely,)  1 stalk of celery, (chopped finely,)  3 green onions, chopped finely, (using the chives as well ,) 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 1 cup of half and half,  1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, dash of Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Remember, (as you LOOK at all these ingredients, it is a rich dinner and you will only be eating just a serving so, for one evening, it will be OK.  🙂 One woman who had this at my luncheon loved it so much, she called me for the recipe… after SEEING the ingredients, she asked if she could substitute with the cream and half and half. If you do, the casserole will not  taste at all like it is supposed to…They say, “everything in moderation.) 🙂    It’s worth it!

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Melt your butter over low heat and saute’ your  chopped vegetables; green pepper, celery stalk, green onion and chives, just until soft. Remove from heat and set aside, allowing to cool.  Beat your four eggs together until well blended. Add the half and half and cream, continue beating or whisking your mixture until it is again, well blended. Add your dash of Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, salt and pepper to taste, (I use freshly ground black pepper and Tabasco.)  Gently, fold in  your lump crab meat  and mix together. Add your freshly sauteed and cooled vegetables, as well as the melted butter they  have been cooked in,  then scoop your mixture into a buttered casserole or a 9×13-2 inch Pyrex dish or baking pan, (same size.)  Spread in pan evenly. Cover with bread crumbs, (I use the seasoned breadcrumbs from the grocer. ) Bake for 30 minutes, test the center to see if it is done as all ovens are different. It should be firm….insert a knife to see if it has cooked through. You will know! 🙂 *** I use about two stems of green onion chopped, but the chives of three.

ENJOY! This is great served with fresh steamed asparagus, sourdough bread and a baked potato with all the trimmings. 🙂

Additional Links:
Country Living magazine white dining room
Victoria Magazine
Country Living magazine
Soot Collector Illuma Lids for candles 

PHOTOGRAPHS In placing your computer mouse upon each photo or graphic, it will display where the picture originated from.

 

BURGERS with class!

“The Burger!  It’s a complete balanced meal, all in one. You’ve got your protein, vegetables, fruits, carbohydrates and COMFORT! ” ~ Author unknown

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Why is it, that the foods we connect with felicitous memories always taste so much better?  It’s not surprising to learn that when asked the question; “What would you choose for your very last meal on earth,?” many people, hands down, responded with, ” A Cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate milkshake.” Perhaps it goes back to our childhood and the comfort we felt when our parents took us to  McDonald’s for a  Big Mac, Jack in the Box’s for their triple cheeseburger, or to  A&W ‘s with their signature Root beer floats.float   As a child, those were the days, weren’t they?      Who doesn’t love a savory and scrumptious burger from the grill?  (Especially now that so many TV chefs, ( who are cooking healthy now,) have come up with a huge array of diverse ingredients they use in their burgers, creating masterpieces we would never think up.

Summer  has arrived  along with its beckoning call to enjoy the great outdoors. It is the most popular season for grilling… It begins with Memorial day parties where we gather with friends, light up the grill and enjoy the flavors of bratwurst, black Angus steaks, turkey or chicken burgers, the all American hot dog and of course the legendary all beef patties, as they simmer upon the smoking coals, filling our souls with a medley of nostalgic memories. ( There is nothing to compare to the delicious aromas in the air when Kit puts on his “grill master apron” and lights up our BBQ.) 🙂 Even when it is in the 90’s with the humidity being 100 %, you will find Grantham , sitting at the foot of the grill, (30 pounds of his weight being his black fur,)  just waiting for the first bite of the evenings meal…  🙂 IMG_1263 In this blog, I want to share some outstanding burger recipes with you…a recipe of Kits and mine, (yes, low sodium and healthy,) but I have also researched some of the most famous and highly rated burgers from renowned chefs, each with a diverse heritage, bringing spices and flavors that add a little pizzazz to the classic American Burger. I hope you find one you love for your next BBQ, a movie night with your family or for your summer galas.

 

 

 

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DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNER

To eat well, I always disagree with critics who say that all restaurants should be fine dining. You can get a Michelin star if you serve the best hamburger in the world.” ~ David Chang

“I always admired Ray Kroc, the man who invented McDonald’s. Ray had a vision of the most commonplace thing-a hamburger and fries to go-but to him it was just the greatest thing ever, and he was going to make it the greatest thing ever for everybody else, and he did.”   David lee Roth

 

buns“It requires a certain kind of mind to see the beauty in a hamburger bun.” ~ Ray Kroc, creator of the McDonald’s franchise.

“Everyone has the right to a University degree in America, even if its in Hamburger Technology.” ~  Clives James

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“Man who invented the hamburger was smart; man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius.” ~ Mathew McConaughey

The journey of a thousand pounds begins with a single burger.” ~ Chris O’Brien

“Anybody who doesn’t think that the best hamburger place in the world is in his home town is a sissy.” ~ Calvin Trillin

“You can fnorthind your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigation uses stars….We have munched Bridge burgers in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge and Cable burgers hard by the Golden Gate, Dixie burgers in the sunny South and Yankee Doodle burgers in the North….We had a Capitol Burger — guess where. And so help us, in the inner courtyard of the Pentagon, a Penta burger.”
Charles Kuralt, journalist.

A Taste of Italy!

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Do you ever question how the people of Italy stay so healthy and fit, eating the abundance of delicious, decadent foods that they do?    Well, I have heard it said, they eat smaller portions,  always use fresh ingredients and do a lot of walking! 🙂  They certainly do know how to live! The Italian people love to celebrate everything with food. (I love that about this country.) 🙂  If they run out of an occasion to emblazon, they will gather around their dining table or their favorite Italian eatery and just  ‘revel in jubilation’ for  ‘the great food and wine itself.’   🙂 They adore cappuccino, espresso coffee, pasta, fresh seafood, vino, freshly made conolies and walking down to the piazza, where they meet with their friends and family, to catch up on all the latest news and happenings.They proudly own a passion for cooking and are renowned for their superb, spicy sauces and variety of cheeses they use in all of their pasta dishes. I am sure the burger with an Italian flare will not disappoint!

 

Italy’s Giada De Laurentiis’ Caprese Burgers

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 Ingredients for Burgers:
2 1/2 pounds ground sirloin beef
1 cup fresh or store-bought pesto
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
One 7 to 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella, sliced into eight 1/4-inch-thick slices, patted dry with paper towels
Pesto Mayonnaise
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh or store-bought pesto

Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Eight 3-inch-square pieces of tomato or plain focaccia bread, halved, or 8 hamburger buns, halved
4 medium tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (16 slices)Directions

Cook’s Note: Freeze the mozzarella for 20 minutes to make slicing easier.For the burgers: Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Combine the beef, pesto, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Form the mixture into eight 4-inch-diameter patties, each about 3/4-inch thick. Grill for 5 minutes. Turn the burgers over and place a slice of mozzarella on top. Cook for about 5 minutes longer until the burgers are cooked through and the cheese is slightly melted. Allow the burgers to rest for 5 minutes.

For the pesto mayonnaise: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and pesto until smooth.To assemble the burgers: Drizzle the cut side of the bread with olive oil and grill until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread the pesto mayonnaise over the bottom halves of the grilled bread. Place the burgers on top and add 2 tomato slices. Add the top halves of the bread and serve.

 

Italian Mini Pub Burgers

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INGREDIENTS!

2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 1/4 pounds ground chuck
3/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
9 small ciabatta rolls, sliced in 1/2
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
9 slices (4 1/2 ounces) Taleggio cheese
9 large basil leaves

Directions

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

Place the garlic and parsley in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the ground chuck, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Pulse until ingredients are combined. Form the mixture into 9 patties. Place the burgers on the grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes each side.

Brush the cut side of each roll with the olive oil and toast on the grill for 1 to 2 minutes until slightly golden.

To serve, place 1 mini burger on the bottom half of each of the rolls. Place 1 slice of Taleggio cheese on top of the burgers. Place the basil leaf on top of the cheese and cover with the top half. Serve.

The Beloved SOUTH!

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 What can compare to a genuine , home cooked Southern meal? (I still have not found an answer to that yet.) 🙂 Cheese grits with grilled shrimp, fried okra, butter beans, hush puppies, boiled peanuts, Pecan pie, oyster stew, biscuits and gravy, collard greens, red velvet cake, buttermilk pie and my favorite, fresh crab from the Inlet water ways. There is an undeniable charm and haunting beauty that captivates each visitor , (as well as  resident) in the Carolinas… One of my favorite  Southern places is the prestigious and galvanic city of Charleston,  with it’s cobble stones streets, chiseled wrought iron fences, summoning Antebellum architecture and grandiose live oaks with their long beard swaying in the soft breezes. Each one, if you listen carefully, telling a magical story, hearkening back to all the many years they have graced this historical, entrancing land.  Every once in awhile, I’ll take out one of  my southern cookbooks, (inherited from my mom,)  and make Kit a special meal.   I know to get an extra stick of butter out, (yes, we will splurge for the occasion,)  as an authentic Southern meal simply can not be prepared ANY OTHER WAY! 🙂

For the vegetarian lover, Southern Cook , Paula Deens’   Portobello Mushroom burger!
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Ingredients
4 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared pesto
2 teaspoons coarse-grained mustard
4 hamburger buns, split, buttered, and toasted
1 cup baby arugula
1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained
Directions
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.Brush mushrooms caps with olive oil; sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Grill mushrooms, smooth side down, covered with grill lid, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender.In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, pesto, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread mixture evenly over cut sides of buns. Divide arugula evenly over bottom halves of buns. Top each evenly with peppers. Place mushrooms caps over peppers. Cover with tops of buns.

 

The South’s, Bobby Flay’s, Stuffed Cheeseburgers.
       (Just imagine on a freshly baked bun with all the trimmings! ) 🙂
                                           ***** 5 star’s for the cheese in every bite.

 

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Ingredients

1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack
4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 pound ground chuck
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large hamburger buns, split
Ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard, for serving
Lettuce, sliced tomato, onion, and avocado, for serving

Directions

Combine the jack cheese and chopped bacon in a bowl. Put the beef in another bowl and season with salt and pepper; use a rubber spatula to mix it in. Flatten 1/4 of the meat mixture in the palm of your hand. Squeeze together about a tablespoon of the cheese and bacon mixture to make a little nugget; put it in the center of the ground beef. Bring up the sides of the patty over the filling, making sure the cheese is completely covered by the meat. Flatten slightly for a nice patty shape. Set them side by side on a platter in the refrigerator while preparing the grill.

Place a large grill pan on 2 burners over medium-high heat or preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal barbecue and get it very hot. Brush the grates with oil to keep the burgers from sticking. Grill the burgers for 8 minutes per side for medium. (The USDA recommends cooking ground beef until it is no longer pink and the internal temperature is 160 degrees F.) Remove the burgers to a clean side plate while you toast the buns.

Rub the grill rack with more oil and place the buns cut-side down, toast for 1 minute. Serve the burgers with your favorite condiment and any garnish you like, such as lettuce, sliced tomato, onion, and/or avocado.

 
THE SPICE OF AUTHENTIC MEXICO
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A beautiful land filled with a wealth of history, gorgeous sunsets,  heart stopping beaches,  resplendent waterfalls and taverns,  joyful and inspirational dancing, romantic music and some of the very best food in the world! Who doesn’t love  freshly cooked fish tacos, hot tortillas,  homemade Pico de Gallo, guacamole and bunuelos? Mexico is known for their fiery hot spices, that we all dare ourselves, (every now now then,) to indulge in.  🙂 They certainly know how to add a little “spice to life.” 🙂
  
The Blond Cook’s Spicy Mexican Cheeseburger.
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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef (15-20% fat)
  • 1/2 cup prepared salsa
  • (1) 1.1 ounce package guacamole seasoning
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 4 slices cheddar jack cheese
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Lettuce
  • Sliced tomato
  • Optional condiments: mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, etc.

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine hamburger meat, salsa and guacamole seasoning. Dividing into equal portions, form 4 patties.
  2. Place on a preheated grill. Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until desired amount of doneness is reached. During the last minute of grilling, place cheese slices on top of patties to melt.
  3. Place on toasted buns and top with avocado, lettuce, tomato and desired condiments
 “Cooking Light’s,” Savory, Cheese Burger, Mexican Style
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Ingredients
  • 1 cup chopped seeded plum tomato
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 pound ground round,
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 (3/4-ounce) slices reduced-fat Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 4 (1 1/2-ounce) hamburger buns
  • 4 iceberg lettuce leaves
  • 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
  • Grilled onions (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a bowl; stir well. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping into 1/2-inch-thick patties.
  2. Prepare grill. Place patties on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 6 minutes on each side or until done. Place 1 cheese slice on top of each patty; cover and grill an additional minute or until cheese melts.
  3. Spread 1 tablespoon of sour cream over top half of each bun, and set aside. Place patties on bottom halves of buns; top each with lettuce, tomato, onions (if desired), and top half of bun.

 

SOUTH WEST TEX MEX, INTRIGUING AND SPICY
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There is nothing quite like the genuine flavor of Tex Mex cooking. Its been described as a flavor that is ‘smoked kissed,’ with its star ingredient being the matchless CHILE. While dining in the southwest, their is only one choice to make. Do you prefer GREEN OR RED!  This region of the United States is known for their bouncing and vivacious  way of life, music festivals, breathtaking landscapes, beautiful mountains, intriguing ruins, rich history as well as world famous cuisine.  Their specialties? Mouthwatering sopaipillas, fry bread, posole and a mixture of spices in all their dishes that will keep you guessing what their hidden ingredient is, long after you’ve finished eating. 🙂 Their secret? A mixture of Native American food with an abundance  of choice spices, brought exclusively by the Spanish Settlers,  arriving to the southwest from Europe and Mexico.

 

Rachael Rays Tex Mex Burgers

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Burger Ingredients

  • 12 slices  good-quality smoky bacon, 4 slices finely chopped and 8 left whole
  • 1 1/4 pounds 80% lean ground beef
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons grated onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tablespoons pureed chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil or EVOO, for drizzling

Queso Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
  • 1 14 ounce can  diced tomatoes with green chiles, well drained

Rolls & Toppings

  • 4 soft burger rolls, split
  • Crisp yellow corn chips
  • Chopped onion, tomatoes, cilantro and pickled jalapeno

Directions

Burgers:

Arrange the 8 whole bacon slices on a broiler pan and bake at 375 degrees until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat a cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Combine the beef, chopped bacon, grated onion, garlic, chipotle puree and Worcestershire; season with salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties (thinner at the center); drizzle with oil. Grill the burgers for 5 minutes on each side for medium.

Queso Sauce:

Make the queso sauce; in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk. Stir in the cheese to melt. Stir in the tomatoes.

Buns & Toppings:

Place the burgers on the bun bottoms and top with the queso sauce, crisscrossed bacon strips, corn chips, remaining toppings and bun tops. Serve extra sauce on the side.

Josh Bousel’s Green Chile Cheeseburger

Green Chile Burger

Ingredients

  • 3 medium poblano chiles
  • 1 half-inch thick slice of a large onion, skewered through the middle horizontally
  • 1 lb ground chuck, at least 20 percent fat
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 slices Pepper Jack cheese
  • 3 hamburger buns

DIRECTIONS

Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals out evenly over the charcoal grate. Place the poblanos and onion on the grill and cook until charred on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Place the poblanos in a Ziploc bag and seal, set the onion to the side. When chiles are cool enough to handle, about 5-10 minutes, remove from the back, peel of the charred skin, and seed. Coarsely chop the chiles and onion together and set aside.

Mix the ground beef with the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Form into 3 1/3-lb patties and use your thumb to make a dimple in the middle of each one. Place the patties on the grill and cook until desired doneness. About 2 minutes before the burgers are done, top each with a slice of pepper jack cheese and allow to melt.

Quickly grill hamburger buns, cut side down, until nicely browned, about 30 seconds. To serve, place the burger on the bun and top with the chili and onion mixture.

 

DELAWARES SURF AND TURF
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Nestled upon the Eastern Shore of the United states, Delaware is a state that “has it all.” Tax free shopping, the infamous Rehoboth beach and its historic boardwalk, romantic and quaint Lewes beach, (the first town ever established in the United states,) alluring inlet waterways, enchanting lighthouses and junoesque rivers. This state is known for its renowned seafood,  fresh from the Atlantic ocean. One of our favorite eateries, grills up a “Crab daddy” burger that is heavenly…(they won’t give us the recipe, so we made up our own!)  🙂

 

Crab Daddy Burger! (our version.) 🙂
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Ingredients for burger;
1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup of oatmeal.
Salt an pepper to taste
Whole wheat hamburger buns
Mayo,
Two large fresh garden tomatoes
Large red onion
Romaine lettuce
DIRECTIONS
Mix ground beef, egg, oatmeal  and spices until well blended. Make four hamburger patties, set aside for grilling. (Grill 5-7 minutes per side, for your desired burger. )
Slice onions, tomatoes and lettuce for burgers
Ingredients for crab topping
1 pkg. (8 oz.) creme cheese, (softened to room temperature.)
1 cup mayo
2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp ground mustard
salt and pepper to taste
dash of Tabasco
1 pound lump crab meat
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
Mix together creme cheese, mayo, 1/4 cup of cheese and seasonings until blended, fold in lump crab meat( stirring gently.) Top with the remainder of cheese and a few more dashes of Old bay. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
While your crab topping is baking, grill burgers on the BBQ or inside grill. For your burgers finale, top them off with a generous amount of crab mixture.  Especially scrumptious with  Cole slaw and steak fries.
Susan and Kits Mushroom and Swiss Cheese Turkey Burger.
Grace119
INGREDIENTS
1 pound ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 cup oatmeal
dash of Tabasco
salt and peeper to taste
1 box sliced, fresh mushrooms, cleaned
1 red onion
1 large , fresh garden tomato
romaine lettuce
Swiss cheese, or Mozzarella
1 TBSP butter
Mayo, Ketchup
Onion Hamburger rolls
DIRECTIONS:
Mix together in bowl, turkey, egg and oatmeal until fully blended. Add Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. Make 4 hamburger patties . Heat up your BBQ and grill for about 5-6  minutes on each side, for medium rare. (Each grill cooks differently, so make sure you test a burger to see if it’s at the right consistency for you, before removing from heat. )
The last minute of your grill time, add your cheese and allow to melt.
While burgers are grilling, or this can be done before hand,
In small saute pan, melt butter at low-medium heat. Add your mushrooms and seasonings, cook until tender.
Slice your onion, tomatoes and lettuce.
Serve with condiments of choice, putting the warmed, sauteed mushrooms on at the last minute. A great side for this flavorful burger is sweet potato fries, hot from your oven.
                                         ***** Delicious and low in sodium!
Lastly, Two great sauces for your summer sandwiches and burgers from Rachel Ray.
allspiceallspice1
Tangy and sweet;
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dill pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • Mix the first five ingredients, and season with salt and pepper

 California-style sauce from Rach’s Cobb Club Burger sliders.

  • 1 cup sour cream,
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • handful of chopped herbs your choice – parsley, chives, dill, etc.
  • salt and pepper
PHOTOGRAPHS; In placing your computer mouse upon any of the  graphics or photos, it will display where the picture originated from.

COASTAL AUTUMN JOYS.

 

“No spring nor SUMMER beauty hath such GRACE as I have seen in ONE AUTUMNAL face.” ~ John Donnemystic beach for writing

Summer time along the coast is undoubtedly a ‘slice of heaven, But how about an Autumn escape to the shores? In this vignette, I want to share a few quaint, enchanting, historic and unforgettable inlet coves and majestic beaches that will not only captivate you with their tranquil charm and beauty, but will touch a pace deep inside  your soul, that will reside within your heart forever. The welcomed autumn season brings new savory aromas,   breathtaking and inspiring sights as well as a deep awareness that nature truly is the ‘handiwork of God.” I grew up in southern California and everyday was a beach or Dana Point harbor day, as the temperatures were superb and the weather, gorgeous, all year round. (OK, yes, it does rain in California…so minus a few days here and there! ) 🙂  Winter, spring, summer and fall in Laguna beach was always exciting and fun, but I can barely remember a day , their shores were not crowded with people. It wasn’t until I discovered the beaches on the east coast that I realized, the serenity, stillness and euphoric beauty a deserted , autumn shoreline could embody. The beaches, marshlands and rustic creeks on the Atlantic ocean are my very favorite places to frequent in the brisk fall months.hammock3 There is nothing quite like their calming solitude, natural wonder as well a their bestowal of a  much needed respite for the soul.  Taking long walks upon the deserted white sands,  with only the company of the silvery moon, its bright hues of  hushed white reflecting on the water, perhaps a sea turtle making its way across the dunes, the sound of the seabirds cooing and the subtle roar of the waves, leisurely strolling into shore, is about as peaceful as it gets.  I want to share with you two special inlet coves, surprisingly hidden during this splendid season and definitely worth planning an autumn escape around!

 

 

DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNER Adorable Baby Boy in Suit on Cellphone

“Winter is an etching, spring a water color, Summer, an oil painting and AUTUMN, a mosaic of them all.” ~ Stanley Horowitz

“To travel is to live.” ~ Hans Christian Anderson ad111

“I read, I travel, I become.” ~Derick Walcott

“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.” ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

“I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshinead107 by staying in the house, so I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.” ~ Nataniel Hawthorne

“Ones destination is never a place, but a NEW WAY of seeing things.” ~ Henry Miller new way of seeing things

“We travel for romance, we travel for architecture and we travel to be lost.” ~ Ray Bradbury

” A few days ago, I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of the leaves with each step I made. cabin3 The acoustics of this season are different , and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air.” ~ Eric Sloane

 

 

Our first destination: Mystic Connecticut.

It was the autumn of 2003…on a whim, while living in Alexandria Virginia, my husband Kit and I decided to load up our jeep, (Grantham in the back on his quilted, soft  tapestry bed,)punk2 with ample ‘road trip’ snacks, our favorite CD’s, camera, Map Quest directions and plenty of warm clothes and journey to Connecticut.   We  were like little kids at Christmas time as we were off to see the  fall foliage display amongst a new land. (I had always heard New England is the place to go, to experience the height of visual beauty in the fall.) “They” were 100% correct! 🙂 The entire state of Connecticut was one ‘gorgeous’ site after another. We were oohing and awing over  New Haven’s prestigious architecture and bustling city, with it’s ancient trees, festooned in vibrant reds, electric yellows and poignant amber and rust colored leaves.beautiful lady 3 Harvard University was galvanic, august and had a touch of England within it’s prestigious presentation.  We had lunch in the adorable and quaint city of Mitford, overlooking the water and after a delightful cuisine of ‘comfort foods,’  we walked Graham on the secluded, tranquil beach in beautiful  Bridgeport.Gold Star Memorial Bridge The bridges in Groton were not only scenic and tranquil, but at the same time like an E-ticket ride at Disneyland.  Every city was fresh and  new to us, capturing our attention with it’s resplendent charm.   Graham was especially thrilled as every time we stopped off at a Starbucks  during our visit,  he was surprisingly treated by the staff to  a tasty  dog-cookie as we ordered our hot lattes . 🙂 beautiful lady 4 As soon as we thought we had seen all the beauty our eyes (as well as souls,)  could behold, we entered the charming, historic and fairytale like village of Mystic. Though our stay was short, Mystic and its surrounding  towns of Stonington and Noank, and all the extraordinary memories we made there, are embedded within our hearts and minds for a lifetime.

I love the quote by J.R.R. Tolkien; “Not all those who wander, are lost.” Let me tell you…we wandered and didn’t care if we were lost. With abandon, we  put away all  of our maps and “places to go”  guidebook,  and just drove until we got so hungry we had to stop. 🙂 If ever you can fall in love with a place, we had taken the plunge. As you enter this glorious village, the first site you see, (unquestionably worth a stop and at least a dozen  photos,) is one of Mystic’s landmarks, the subtle yet grandeur village graveyard.mystic10 With it’s cobblestone fences, antiquated trees and stellar architecture, it exudes history and charm. As we continued our drive,  we saw a myriad of ‘instant dream homes’ on every corner…all of them romantic, enchanting and irrefutably heart-stopping with the beauty they possessed…   Slowly meandering in our jeep down Gravel street, we were taken aback by the Colonial Cape Cods and Greek revival homes . Nestled close to the water,  they were once  owned by  renowned sea captains, or ship builders.  (Their names and titles  proudly displayed upon the shiny silver plaques  upon the nostalgic, seafaring houses entry ways. ) We ended up on Starr ST. which is right on the mystic river. I don’t think my eyes blinked for five minutes with its stellar beauty and grandiose welcome. (The homes around this famous river were beyond what Webster calls exquisite, grand and lovely.) I wanted to set up camp in our jeep and never leave. Downtown Mystic was just as charming with it’s legendary, historic drawbridge, unique boutiques with their windows dressed for fall, old historic churches that looked like they didn’t belong in the 21st century with their Victorian, Colonial architecture  and uninhibited, august design. If you were to buy a scenic coffee table book with 100 pages of autumn splendor, it would not  compare to the volume of  Mystics exuberant fall display.aut20 We were charmed by the scarecrows, pumpkins, and  the old cider mill in the bucolic countryside, as well as the massive Tall ships in the harbor, ( looking as if they had just returned from a long trip out at sea.)  Their grandiose appearance  likened to a step back in time, when pirates roamed the ocean waters, embellishing their many  tales of dauntless adventures with exotic mermaids, ample, shiny gold and of course, their  buried treasures. The cuisine in Mystic and Stonington was undeniably ‘five- star.’ We stopped for lunch at The Skippers Dock…It was like a dream come true on a chilly autumn day. There were two cozy and mesmerizing  fires  burning within their gallant, resplendent hearths. Our table was right on the water and we were treated like royalty from start to finish. S-33 I had never tasted a new England, Harbor-view Bouillabaisse entree, and let me tell you, it alone was worth the 8 hour drive form Virginia. The lobster sandwich, (A new England tradition) was to die for. We must have stayed for hours basking in the engaging, warm and delightsome ambiance, comforted by the medley of savory aromas. We stayed at a familiar place a few nights, ( The Holiday Inn) and then at an eccentric and ‘real taste of Mystic’ Bed and Breakfast, The Harbor Inn and Cottage.  I am not kidding when I tell you that when the innkeeper greeted us, he looked identical to Earnest Hemingway’s portrait of ‘The Old man in the sea.’ (He was just missing the pipe.)  🙂  Our little cottage came with a hot tub and Graham was so excited to be in Mystic with Kit and I, that he decided to jump into the steaming jacuzzi with us… (forgetting  that the two things he hates most  in doggy life are water and heat.) 🙂  We had dinner at a lovely eatery across from the river called The River walk, in downtown Mystic.  The ambiance was cozy, romantic and friendly.  They served the best freshly grilled salmon Caesar salads accompanied with fresh homemade bread,  still hot from the oven.  My husband ordered a superb, seafood  pasta dish that was out of this world. We were in heaven!

Truly, everyday was like a day in paradise…so much so, that we traversed back several times… The fall trip was our favorite… The air was brisk and the entire area was dressed in an array of buoyant, blithesome colors, announcing autumns arrival. The quaint eateries and historic sites were not crowded at all…we felt like we had this magical place, all  to ourselves.

If you decide to visit Mystic for your ‘autumn escape,’ some other special places to experience are the delightful and  spectacular sea aquarium with dolphins,S-17 seals and Beluga whales, the Ship Museum and the renowned eatery, Mystic Pizza. ( I hear Julia Roberts comes in every now and then, (incognito) to get the “house” pizza.) (Just joshing!) 🙂 (But she might.)  The Colonial Olde Mystick Village with its abundance of  charming  and wondrous shops is a great place to spend a day… (especially the enchanting Christmas boutique, in which I could spend hours alone, hunting for my treasures.)  There are endless, rousing inlet coves in Noank, (right on Mystics border, ) historic lighthouses in Stonington, (another town on the skirt of Mystic,) and be sure to go to the Cider mill for a piping,  hot mug of fresh apple cider. I almost forgot, if you have time, be sure to see Fox-woods luxurious hotel and casino , bestowed with an abundance of fantastic eateries, unique and endearing boutique shops, and of course plenty of  celebrity entertainment and a great place for those of you who are nighttime , (stay up late) people.

Kit and our precious Graham at the Harbor Inn Cottage…. Before the jacuzzi incident! 🙂 I think the fisherman, (Our innkeeper)  was taking a snooze in the “Main house.”   mystic lodge 1

Susan and Graham at The Holiday Inn in new Haven.  Another great place to stay in Mystic is  ‘The Inn At Mystic.’  (They are pet friendly and we all know how important that is!) 🙂

mystic lodgemystic3

 

The gorgeous and elaborate Fox-woods.This was another stay in Mystic, (Christmas time,) and all I can say is we had the best time of our lives! Definitely worth visiting. No we did not win any money! 🙂 The food was delicious! mystic lodge 2

A beautiful, historic home on Gravel Road in Mystic… (One of our favorites.) mystic house 2

The legendary Mystic River with its dreamy blue waters and placid stillness. S-19

Your welcoming sign upon arrival! (And believe me, YOU WILL FEEL VERY WELCOMED!) Everyone was so amiable and friendly!S-18

The renowned Mystic Pizza eatery! (If you have never seen that movie with Julia Roberts, it truly is  a ‘must see.’ 🙂 mystic2

Taking a country drive in Connecticut. Does it get any more beautiful than this?Salem in the Fall

New England in the autumn season. Breathtaking!october1-4

The Olde Mystick Village…you have got to go to the Christmas shop that is open year round.ad16

Noank in the wintry season…we fell in love with this town, the first time we laid eyes upon it. noank

Stonington…another one of our favorite villages  in Connecticut , right on the border of Mystic. (It’s hard to tell where Mystic ends and Stonington begins.) 🙂noank1

Mystic in the fall… the place that captured our hearts and has never given them back. 🙂 noank2

The front yard of our favorite home in Mystic…It is nestled upon the serene river with a gorgeous  view  of the historic graveyard, Mystic’s seaport museum, Tall ships and the replicated, galvanic lighthouse. mom1

An elfin, charming home in Noak… One of the most beautiful village towns I have ever seen.mystic noank

The mysterious Mystic river at the delightful gloaming hour…mystic5

A wonderful Bed and Breakfast in Mystic called the Mermaid Inn. mystic mermaid inn

Another lovely view of the Mermaid Inn of Mystic.mermaid-inn

This is the quaint cottage we stayed at where Grantham jumped into the jacuzzi with us. Oh what fond memories! 🙂 Harbor inn

Whether in the glorious autumn season, or during the festive and magical time of Christmas, amid spring’s show-stopping majesty with it’s layered tones of the seasons bursting foliage and flowers or the inspiring and thrilling summer season,  you will  not only be abundantly blessed by this historical village, but will find you can’t wait to go back.

 

 

Our next exhilarating destination… The inlet creeks of Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island in the historic and hauntingly beautiful South Carolina.murrells inlet 2

 

It was the year of  2003 that Mystic Connecticut stole my heart, but Murrell’s inlet captured it when I was just a little girl. I feel as if I grew up myself amongst this fetching and luring marshland with it’s mesmerizing, spell-bounding salt creeks, ample fishing, crabbing, shrimping , antiquated oak trees and the nostalgic fragrance of  the inlets briny water, with each story my mom told us about her childhood amongst the shore.

My six siblings and I “always” knew when one of her ‘tales,’ was about to begin. We would all gather around her, anticipating excitedly, as we awaited her every word.beautiful mom Her big brown eyes, southern drawl, and warming smile  caught our attention as she spoke…she was lost in her bliss of the inlets charm, talking about her yesteryear’s as if it were her ‘yesterdays,’ (her memories were as clear and vivid, as if they had just recently occurred.)

We laughed until our sides ached,  when she told us about the time she and all of her ‘kissing-cousins’, dauntlessly crowded themselves into a tiny fishing boat on the Inlet waters,(hoping and praying they wouldn’t sink.)hammock2 Bright-eyed and full of mischief, they excitedly explored the  creek’s haunting coves , enjoying the Brobdingnagian, ancient oak trees and  miry swamps as they’d re-tell  their favorite lore’s of the Islands legendary ghosts, (talking with their mouths full, as children always do) joyously eating their sun-warmed pimento cheese sandwiches.   (After hours “out at sea,”) :), sun burnt and a bit tired, they reluctantly headed back to shore,aligator (their ears and eyes carefully watching any movement in the water,) just encase an alligator and it’s baby “just happened” to pick the same day as them to frequent the creek.) 🙂

Before they headed back to the beach house, they decided to go crabbing… (It didn’t matter if they caught any delicious sea delicacies…they just had the time of their lives trying.)hammock8 As they walked through the tall marsh grass, they could smell the heavenly aroma of a home cooked southern dinner awaiting them. Their slow meandering pace, became a fast jaunt as they began to smell the cornbread biscuits baking in the oven…as they sat down at the rustic wooden dining table , they were so hungry they almost forgot to say grace, as the fried chicken, butter beans, sweet potato souffle, okra,  collard greens, hammock6(gosh that is a lot of carbs,) was set before them. After second helpings , you’d think that they would say “no, absolutely cant eat another bite,” to dessert. Not a chance!  The homemade ‘pee-can’ pie, (as my adorable, big blue eyed , soon to be a movie star cousin,  Jonathon pronounces it,)  was the treasure they had looked forward to all day!

Every summer, their Inlet adventures continued as they would reunite…”The same place- the same time,” each year. I was in absolute awe that they still met up as young women at the childhood spot they all adored. This gathering was a little different…instead of a fishing boat, and crabbing, they would put on their new , fashionable bathing suites, take a picnic lunch, and sunbathe on the white sands, hoping to get a wink or two from a handsome military man home on leavebeautiful lady. (And you can bet they did not rush home to a southern cooked meal…) They were more interested in their tiny waits lines than their palates. 🙂

As a little girl, my favorite tales that my mom shared about the Inlet, were those of the legendary Grey man and Alice Flagg’s frequent , “ghostly” visits to the Hermitage. mom(She also threw in a few of her own canny tales from the huge Southern Victorian home she grew up in.)  Were her stories true or Embellished myths? It didn’t matter, we just wanted to hear them again and again. (But to this day…residents and visitors alike on the Inlet and Pawleys island say they still see these the two ghosts wandering the land.) hammock 10Before a hurricane hits the shore, the Grey man is seen…his presence is to warn visitors and the residents to leave the island before it is to late. Sure enough, his appearance has saved many a lives. Alice and the Hermitage? A tragic story of an refined young woman, who though forbidden by her brother and legal guardian, accepted the marriage proposal of a handsome, young lumber jack in town. She was sent away to a prestigious boarding school in Charleston, where she died suddenly of malaria…when her brother found the engagement ring,(secretly worn as a necklace on her body,) he threw the ring into the marsh. hermitgae“People say” they see Alice, (even 150 years later) at the Hermitage and amongst the family graveyard, looking for her lost ring.  The Hermitage draws in many tourists and Alice still receives flowers and sentiments upon her grave site. Perhaps the legends and folklore of the Inlet are some of the very things that make up its romantic charm and charisma, attracting so many fans  to its magical and alluring coastal village. As I became a young woman, I  too visited Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island. My moms memories and stories were embedded deep within my heart and my expectations exceedingly high…I was not disappointed one bit! It truly was just as she  had described. To this day, it is one of my favorite places in all the world. Yes, the years  have definitely changed this magical tale bearing land, but its antebellum charm has never left. I know if my mom were alive today, she’d find that cherished inlet cove , that she and her cousins “frolicked and played,” and with a big grin and her smiling brown eyes, reminisce about her childhood days upon the saltwater creeks and marshes of the Inlets.

If you love chilly, moonlit nights on the strands, (deserted) white dunes, the sounds of the  birds and nightlife upon the inlet creeks, the mellifluous “hoo, hoo, hoo’s”  of the great horned owls,  chirping crickets, dapper pelicans, playful dolphins, a tiptoeing alligator or two,(or three…) 🙂 ,  beautiful lady 5 fireflies, the smell of briny water,  shrimping, crabbing, pier fishing, reading a beloved novel, relaxing upon a legendary Pawleys Island Hammock, nestled under a canopy of antiquated oak trees,  ice cold glasses of sweet tea,Beach Hammock (with sprigs of fresh mint,)  down home southern cooking, hot ‘pee-can’ pie, a la mode, history, cottages and plantations of yesteryear, you will love Murrell’s Inlet in the autumn.

There are so many spectacular places to see on the shore… (I myself would be exploring the inlet by day,  take a late afternoon hammock snooze, walk the moonlit beach, and rent a beach house on the water that had a big, cozy fireplace.) 🙂 The scenic and breathtaking flowers alone are worth a trip to the  lovely  Brook green gardens.  Huntington State beach with its inviting camp grounds, alluring wildlife, enchanting Atalaya castle,atalaya ( a heart stopping Moorish estate,) the Wachesaw Plantation and an equestrian center, are all a treat for the eyes as well as the soul.  Great places to stay if you decide not to rent a beach cottage are the Hampton inn Murrell’s Inlet and Ellington’s at Wachesaw plantation, (truly a visit back in time with its charming and galvanic ambiance.)sc505The Hot Fish club has superb seafood and one of my favorite eateries in the entire country is only a short  drive up the shore , nestled on the water, a wondrous restaurant called The Sea Captains House. I have more heartwarming  memories of that little cottage eatery than I can count….their cuisine is out of this world and it truly is one of the cities landmarks.  Lastly, I must add that Murrells inlet is known as the host to the FINEST golf courses in the country. 🙂

If we were given two lives on earth at the same time, I would be on the Inlet waters all the time…Not just because I miss my mom and her winsome story telling, and the magic and charm she shared with us,  tale after tale, or that this captivating land makes me feel her presence, but because Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island  truly  are  showstopping lands, filled with beauty and a romantic history that stands alone. It is unlike any other place we have traveled…(and I still want to see one of  those gators.) (In a large cruise ship of course.)  🙂 I can guarantee you, you will fall in love with this inlet waterway in your autumn escape to Murrells Inlet or Pawleys island…Two of South  Carolinas choice and beloved  places to see.

A lurking alligator in the salt marsh creeks. (I would turn my little boat the other way!) 🙂oyster catcher 3

More exciting and beautiful wildlife upon the Inlet waters of South Carolina. Whether it is the captivating beauty of the Oyster catchers, laughing gulls, sanderlings or the ruddy turnstone, the lively creatures of the inlet waterway are undoubtedly a big part of the creeks charisma and romantic charm.

oyster catcher 2oyster catcher1

oyster catcher

I can’t think of anything as pleasurable and enticing to the soul, than the natural beauty of the tall marsh grass, a weathered fishing pier and the lush green foliage of the islands saltwater creeks.  pawleys-island-7

Pawleys Island and Murrell’s inlet are also known as ‘the hammock beaches’…While visiting there, don’t forget to check out the galvanizing, enchanting Hammock Shop.  pawlaeys isalnd

My (young) 🙂  mom in her new bathing suit attire on the Inlet waters… Doesn’t look like she has been eating any carbs at all! 🙂 D-70

The Inlet is filled with romantic, intriguing and arresting history as well as charm, appeal and resplendent beauty.SONY DSCSONY DSC

There is nothing like the site of  a South Carolina , ancient oak tree… A perfect setting or backdrop  for a thrilling  mystery novel or nail biting suspense movie. These antiquated trees always look as if they  have a story to tell! 🙂TR-PAWLEYS

The charm and loveliness of the Gardens and Plantations upon the Inlet waters, are not only breathtaking and mesmerizing but make an impression upon your soul that will be with you forever. Its part of the Carolinas, romantic charm.  ardent escape 9

A very special memory for me when I was in my twenties… My cousin Roy’s home upon the waterway in South Carolina… Not only was I treated like royalty, but the ‘southern home cooking’ changed my palate forever. 🙂ad108

The Inlet and Pawleys Island are known for their “front porch story telling”…Just add a few glasses of  sweet tea, some boiled peanuts, great conversation and camaraderie,  and your day will be  “right as rain.” 🙂 sc511

While experiencing Murrells Inlet, if you feel up to taking a short drive up the strand, one of the best seafood restaurants I  have ever been to is The Sea Captains House. After a scrumptious dinner of homemade jambalaya or a late afternoon lunch of the House Specialty, shrimp salad, Broadway at the beach is right around the corner with delightful shops, delicious eateries and fabulous celebrity entertainment.

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Another great place to eat at the Inlet is Captain Dave’s Dockside… You’ve never tasted seafood like fresh fish from the inlet waters. Wet your appetite with a scrumptious appetizer or two…  Savory Oysters Rockefeller or Low country steamed muscles. For your grand finale entree, they offer a delightful fresh salmon Florentine or their renowned Carolina crab cakes. daves

A beautiful home in Murrells Inlet…It just needs a few pumpkins and scarecrows for your Autumn escape. 🙂murrels

I always  think of the classic movie, ‘Gone with The Wind,’ when I see the historic, magnificent southern Plantations. sc503

I think I found a new place of bliss! 🙂 (Just give me a writing pad, pen and a chair to sit upon…)  sc57

The renowned Southern Humming bird cake…a “gotta try” when your in the south. It will melt in your mouth.hammock5

A beautiful, still and peaceful day on the Inlet! autumn esacpe 4

Grandiose! Gorgeous! Enveloping! This is the reason why this elfin land will forever be, etched upon my heart! sc500

Again, whether you choose to get away for a respite to Murrells  Inlet and Pawleys Island in the ardent ,brisk autumn, the romantic and festive Christmas season, the glorious season of spring,  or amidst a summer time of bliss, these inlet coves are places that are  authentic and genuine, overflowing with beauty and southern, historical charm. The cuisine is  superb, there is always plenty to do, (even if it is reading your abandoned novel or two,)  while relaxing under the oak trees on a Pawleys Island hammock, You will not be disappointed either… These enchanted village towns get a 10+ rating in my book!  🙂

 

I want to leave you with a scrumptious “seafood” recipe in celebration of the these two enchanting sea cove villages…. I hope you enjoy! salmon

This is a family recipe that is one of Kit’s and my favorites….(actually Grantham’s too 🙂 It is called “Savory Salmon Delight!” I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. 🙂

YOU WILL NEED:

A large, (at least one pound) fresh salmon fillet, one package of fresh mushrooms, sliced, dill seasoning, salt and pepper to taste, 2-3 TBSP. butter, Tabasco sauce, (if you like it spicy like us,)  about 1/2 cup of white wine and freshly steamed rice.

DIRECTIONS:

Rinse your fresh salmon off and place in buttered pan, casserole dish or 13×11 Pyrex dish. (I use a Terracotta fish cooker baking dish with a covered lid.) Season your salmon to taste…(we also use lots of dill…)  In a sauté pan, melt two tablespoons of butter on low heat.  Over low to medium heat , sauté your mushrooms until tender. Pour your mushrooms and melted butter over the salmon, add your white wine (the amount to your taste,)  and cover with baking lid or tin foil. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees… Salmon should begin to flake when cut into, when it is done. Cook you rice while the salmon is baking or if have a rice cooker, time you’re cooking with the time that the salmon will be ready and serve the salmon and its juices over your warmed rice. This recipe is healthy, simple to make and delicious.It is greatly complimented  with a Caesar salad and a loaf of French or sourdough bread, hot from the oven. Bon Appetit!

 

PHOTOGRAPHS: By placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or  graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.

LINKS TO COME!

 

“Things that make you go HMM.”

“The pondering heart is a thankful heart.” ~ Todd Stocker
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Besides being a popular dance song released in the early 90’s by artist C+C Music Factory and a fantastic song to do aerobics to,  “Things that make you go hmm,” is a phrase that we often do, (without realizing it,) when we see, feel or hear something that is ‘out of the ordinary’, thus leading us to take the time to ponder…If you are a ‘deep thinker’ as myself, it can get you into trouble, as sometimes I “over think” some of my ‘hmm’s,’ to my detriment…(but I am learning.) 🙂

I am a lover of (most things) that make you go ‘hmm,’ especially the things that are new, thought provoking, controversial to the human mind or case us to  feel hope, magic, faith, wonderment and awe . They bring color to our everyday life, as well as accelerate the blood flow to our brain, increasing brain cells, which  keeps our minds growing . It is also a known fact that when you  exercise your mind, you become a more compassionate, understanding and kind person. (Another reason to challenge your mind with the things that make you stop , think, contemplate and challenge yourself to resolve your questions or embrace your amazement, about the topic at hand.)

things that 55I believe that everyone has stories of things in their life that make them go ‘hmm’. They begin to occur when we are old enough to observe, hear and talk and will continue happening as long as we live. I don’t think we we will ever stop questioning life, world events, human behavior or cease to  fully grasp  the  things that spark our curiosity and cause us to revel, evoking our minds to take the time to arrive to a peaceful conclusion and belief.

There are  a medley of categories for this fun topic... In my research , I was amazed at just how many articles, posts and writings are published about “things that make you go hmm.”  In this blog, I would like to share an array of real life occurrences  that will perhaps cause you to question your own beliefs, laugh, or smile as you find yourself  fully  identifying with their unique “hmm.”  Most of all, I hope this writing brings your day amusement, entertainment and enjoyment as it did for me. ENJOY!

 

things that 109DISTINGUISHED “THOUGHT PROVOKING”CORNER…

 

 

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How many times have you turned on the news, a favorite talk show or seen an article in the Newspaper about children who have talents or knowledge that far surpasses their age? CHILD PRODIGIES… Unfathomable  Hmm’s.

 

I was amazed to learn about Akrit Jaswal, a child surgeon in India. This young boy performed his first surgery at the age of seven years old, operating on the hands of a burn victim. No, Akrit is not a doctor in India but he is  considered a “medical genius” by his native people. At the age of 13, his IQ is 146 .

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Born in the year 2000, this beautiful young singer, with her extraordinary musical talents has already gone Platinum. Jackie Evancho was discovered at a very young age, causing awe and inspiration in her followers, with her unique style of  American Classical Crossover music. Since the age of 9 Jackie has issued five albums including platinum gold, 3 Billboard  and 200 top ten debuts.Great Performances: Jackie Evancho-Dream With Me in Concert

I was first introduced to these two precious  “young ladies” on The Ellen Show. Two pint size Brits, 5 Year old  Rosie McClelland and her cousin, 7 year old Sophia Grace Brownlee. They became an overnight sensation with a video they made that went viral. Now 8 and 10 years old, they not only have their first movie out on Warner Brothers, but will soon have their very own Television show. I can not watch these two little girls longer that 5 seconds without smiling, laughing and just being in complete awe at their captivating, sweet personalities, dancing, singing and acting abilities.  thingsthat10003

 

 This adorable little boy is  Akim Camara. He is a violinist prodigy in Berlin. With an extraordinary memory of musical tunes he’d heard as a toddler, Akim began playing the violin at the early age of two. He began taking lessons twice a week, and within 6 months time was playing the violin far beyond his audiences expectation. At the age of 3,  this little guy made his debut performance in December 2003, at a Christmas concert.

Das Adventsfest der 100.000 Lichter in Suhl - Violinist Akim

 

This very talented  artist, known as “Akiane,” began drawing at the age of 4 and was painting by age 6, using acrylics and oil.  Her mission is to INSPIRE OTHERS, with the subject matter being God and nature. She is now 13 years old. Unbelievable!  thingsthat1000

 

I don’t know about you, but I have always been awestricken by the creatures of the deep sea…There are no two creations alike. The Mystical hmm.

A econometric Scale worm, one of many bio-luminescent inhabitants of the ocean, with its scales glowing in the dark.  (Kind of looks like a alien from outer space?) 🙂

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The mystifying, kaleidoscopic colors of the creatures of the sea are inconceivable.

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Oh my gosh… This little guy looks like a human being, that just tasted something very sour.. The Ghost Hunters of the Ocean call this one a ‘scary deep sea creature.” thingsthat80077

A Hawks-bill Turtle in the warm Egyptian waters. Amazing!thingsthat80045

This Brobdingnagian sea creature makes me think of what the bible says about the leviathans, (sea monsters) playing in the ocean… He’s none other than a “whale Shark,” unbelievable in size.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

SUPPOSEDLY HAUNTED houses, beaches or hotels…The “spooky, unexplainable, is this for real ” contemplations.

lampost1Everyone , I am sure, has heard at least one ghost story or two of presumably haunted houses,  or about someone who swears they saw a spirit-like presence walk by their door, or that have heard strange noises in the middle of the night, that are still to this day unexplained… Perhaps you are one who has a story to tell.

 

I personally know of two people who have a haunted house story… Now these are not people who exaggerate the truth for the sake of a ‘good, old scary campfire tale.’ When they shared it with me, they meant it and believed it 100%! I heard these stories  many years ago and I am still thinking about them 🙂

“The Lady in the windows.”

Spending many years  in the deep south, it was not uncommon to hear stories of the supernatural. My mother often spoke of her childhood home where she grew up in the late 1920’s…  Suddenly, out of nowhere, (the air languid and still,) she would see their high back, white rockers, rocking all by themselves on the porch, unexplained noises from the hall closet and creaking sounds coming from their old staircase . She and her little brother would run and hide, spooked by what  they could not explain.  I will always remember this one particular story she told me that has been passed down through many generations in our family.

  Kathryn Winders - Susan's mothers home in Marion South CarolinaThe home that my mother grew up in, was  an Old Victorian home, (which from the outside did look a little spooky, perhaps accented with a tiny bit of Gothic charm.)  (Sorry mom, but it really did.) 🙂  My mom was blessed to live with two generations of her family living in this home,(something very common in the south.)  Her little brother Willie , her mother Virginia, her grandpa, (as well as father figure,) William and their friend and butler, Porter.  My mom recalled an exceedingly vivid dream she had the night her grandpa died.  She dreamed he came to her bedside and gave her a big bear hug, (like he always did) kissed her on the cheek and told her how much he loved her. He then told her that he was going to go away but he would see her again one day. 

The night of her dream, while sleeping,  her grandfather became very ill. His dlampostaughter Virginia, by his side,  asked Porter to get a glass of cold water for William downstairs in the kitchen . When 20 minutes had  passed and Porter had not returned, Virginia went down to the kitchen herself. She saw Porter standing in the dark, the glistening light from the Edwardian lamppost outside highlighting his slender form. As She walked to  turn the light on, she concernedly asked;   “Porter, are you alright?”

Porter , in a trance- like state of mind,  answered back: “Miss Virginia, I don’t know how to tell you this, or if you will believe me,  but when I walked into the kitchen, I saw a woman within the midst of the windows above the  sink. (My moms vintage home had two large, towering encasement  Kitchen windows.)  She was so beautiful…I  know I should have been scared as she was not real…she was more of a spirit, ghost or vision. She was so peaceful, I just couldn’t stop looking at her.”

Virginia, a little awestruck, sat down at the kitchen table and  said;    “Porter what did this woman look like?”

As Porter began to describe the woman, Virginia’s eyes lit up as she continued to listen.

“She looked so  beautiful  dressed in a mauve colored  tailored dress, her hair was up off her neck, softly fastened with a gold clip in a loose bun upon her head. She wore a beautiful silk green scarf that matched her earrings and she was smiling, her lips a deep red color.”

Virginia, feeling bewildered, yet at the same time , comforted, replied;  “Porter you probably won”t believe me either when I tell you who you are describing. The woman you saw was my mother. The very way she wore her hair, her dress, her scarf, her favorite earrings, and she loved her red lipstick. Your description fits her to a “T” of  exactly how she was dressed and looked when we buried her many years ago. You never knew her as she died long  before you came to live with us.”

As they sat together at the kitchen table, they chatted a little more about my mom’s grandmother and then headed back up stairs to see William, trying to grasp and understand this unexplainable occurrence.

In the morning when Virginia woke up and went in to check on  her father, he had died within the night.

When Virginia sat down with my mom and Willie,  to share the news that their beloved Grandpa had died, my mom began to cry. She told her mother about her dream and how  her grandpa had kissed her and told her goodbye. Virginia, hearing about the dream, began to weep as she recalled the night before and the woman Porter saw in the kitchen windows , trying so hard to make sense of it all.

They all came to the conclusion, (and have passed this story down through the generations,) that my great grandmother came to escort her husband William to heaven the very night he died. It gave them all great comfort as they remembered the years William and his wife were together on this earth…they were exceedingly close and shared a love  that was a blessing to everyone who knew them.

merriment18I  am blessed to have at least mamagin1two photographs of these five “very important ” people in my history who lived in this Victorian, ( a little bit Gothic,) 🙂  home of many a ‘Hmm story.’ My mom as a little baby and her mother, Virginia as a young woman. Two amazing and beautiful southern women.

 

“Ghost Soldiers.”

thingsthat7004A friend of mine, Shepherd, who I have always called “Shep”, bought a beautiful Antebellum home in the grandiose and breathtaking city of Charleston  South Carolina. The home had heroically stood through the Civil war, which only made it a home with more stories to tell as well as gave it an extra added charisma…but Shep never knew it was haunted. He and his wife did a wonderful job restoring it to its magical historical charm, and decided to keep the original staircase..thingsthat7001. When finished,  their home was absolutely  breathtaking. Being the night-owl that Shep is, every evening, after his children and wife go to bed, he sits in his study and enjoys an hour of reading. (He is a connoisseur of many diverse books as he loves to learn.)   He tells me that many a time, when the house is still and quiet, he hears the footsteps of heavy boots walking up and down his staircase, creaks in the hardwood flooring upstairs and then begins to hear the men talking. He even knows their names.  They are soldiers who fought in the war. When they speak, they are often talking of the days events on the battle field. When I asked him if it scares him, he said “NO. They actually comfort me, I feel like they they are protecting our home.”

 

The Legend of The Grey man

graymanIn the mysterious , fascinating coast and inlets  of South Carolina, before a hurricane hits the shore,things that10003 the Grey man, (believed to be a  ghost,)  is often times seen on the picturesque shores…his presence is known as a warning to visitors and the residents to leave the island before it is to late. Sure enough, his appearance has saved many a lives. It is also noted that the people who encounter this spirit and heed his warning, are in complete awe as they return to their coastal  homes,  as they have not even been touched by the storm.  This particular “ghost story” is one that many people in the south will tell you is absolutely true and not a myth or fable.

The story of Alice flag and The Hermitage.

alice A tragic story of a refined young woman, who though forbidden by her brother and legal guardian, accepted the marriage proposal of a handsome, young lumber jack in town. She was sent away to a prestigious boarding school in Charleston, where she died suddenly of malaria. When her brother found the engagement ring,(secretly worn as a necklace,) on her body, he threw the ring into the marsh. “People say,” they see Alice, (even 150 years later) at the Hermitage and amongst the family graveyard, looking for her lost ring.  The Hermitage draws in many tourists and Alice still receives flowers and sentiments upon her grave site to this present day. Even now, people are still reporting her visits to this South Carolina Historical, haunted home.

California has a haunted hotel?

thingsthat80030You would never know it as you look at this beautiful, renowned historic hotel on the sandy beaches of San Diego, California, built in 1888, but it has now been officially declared ‘haunted.’ Chris Donovan, the hotels historian has written a book on the young ghost that frequents this grandiose estate by the sea. She was a young woman who checked into the hotel Del Coronado under an alias name, and took her life upon thingsthat80029the steps leading down to the ocean’s shore.  Her ghost has not only been seen but felt in many areas of the hotel, including the beach, her room and the boutiques within this luxury estate. Other guests who have stayed at the  renowned and prestigious, (supposedly haunted,) Del Coronado are Babe Ruth, Bette Davis, Kathryn Hepburn, Ronald Regan and George W. Bush.

 

                                 The “I can’t believe how cute my pet is,” hmm’s.

 

How many times do we catch our precious cargo’s in a Kodak moment?things that1029things that 1030

They are so endearing with their  hearts of ‘boundless love.’ dad56

They surprise us with their comical expressions as well as  their humble, quiet and inquisitive spirits.

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And the “things they get into” brings a smile to our hearts and we love them all the more. (If that is even possible.) 🙂 things that 1009

Love x 2 = ‘more Hmm’s. 🙂  dad50

I didn’t think a little domesticated lamb could get any cuter! (Her handmade sweater is definitely her color.) 🙂 thingsthat1012

 

Natures, “This is too beautiful for words,” reflection.

Arizona’s prize possession of the wondrous Grand Canyon. “Simply amazing.” thingsthat8019

The breathtaking  Marble Cathedral cave in Chile, nestled in the second largest fresh water lake in South America. It’s unique light show is caused by the reflection of the water on the marble walls.  thingsthat8011

The spectacular Aurora Borealis in Canada. This photo was taken at its peak,  when the sky was filled with opalescent sheets of dancing waves of light.  thingsthat8009

Jeita Grotto in Lebanon. “Beyond Implausible.” thingsthat8008

Ha Long Bay has now been accepted as one of the 7 new wonders of nature …They are celebrating in both Hanoi and Quang Ninh Providence for the beautiful phenomena they possess.  thingsthat8006

 

 Man made Wonders that blow our minds.

The gorgeous St. Basils Cathedral, built in 1555 in Moscow, Russia. This beautiful work of art symbolizes the growth of the city since the 14th century. (Reminds me of the magic castle at Disneyland.) thingsthat8005

 The renowned Mount Rushmore in America’s South Dakota…a monument carved in stone. (No matter how many times I see this, I am still speechless.) (My husband told me he bets that George Washington got tired of posing for this explicate work of art.) He’s a funny guy! 🙂 thingsthat8004

“Christ The redeemer in the Tijuca Forest National Park in Rio de Jeniero atop Corcovado Mountain. This cherished statue weighs 635 tons. WOW!thingsthat8001

The spell bounding  Petra. Located on the slopes of Mount Hor in the Arabah section of Jordan, it’s beauty and age is made mostly of red sandstone. Built in 106 AD it is known as “A rose red city half as old as time.” thingsthat8000

Located 1 mile from the shoreline of Portsmouth Harbor, UK, this ingenious , 134 year old Split-bank Fort has been transformed into a luxury Hotel. things that 1000

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 Undomesticated animals and the wild, our “Awestruck Hmm’s.”

What can compare to the majestic elephant and her baby? (The creation of the elephant itself makes me go hmm…everything about them just fascinates me.) 🙂 thingsthat1023

No, these are not created characters from a “Happy feet” movie sequel, they are the eccentric Adelie Penguins…A unique and stunning bird of the antarctic Ocean with a life span of 20 years. So stunning. thingsthat80024

Heart capturing Polar bears… If you are fortunate enough to live in Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland or Norway, then your chances of seeing them up close in the wild are much greater. They are beautifully amazing! thingsthat10078

This docile, charming creature and its baby, fills your heart with a hope, that there truly is innocence and enchantment abounding in our world. 🙂thingsthat8023

There is something so regal about the Lion… I could look at them all day long and never quite take in and absorb their stoic beauty and mysterious natures….(from a distance of course.) 🙂

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“Oh the things our children do” Hmm’s.

 

 

Who wants to be the first to take a bath?dad39

Have you two been brushing your teeth or getting ready to shave?dad34

I truly hope those are washable paints!oops1

The wondrous innocence of our kids…they really believe with boundless faith.oops2

Precious moments caught on camera… a toddlers first encounter with a giant sea turtle and a babies first dance moves…what can you say? You just smile and treasure the moment forever. 🙂

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 MIRACLES… The “Is this for real and if it is, WOW”  Hmm.

 

 The Parking Lot

A story shared on ainglkiss.com

I wanted to share my own personal testimony of a miracle God performed in my life a few years ago. I went to cash my check one afternoon. After returning to my car, I was putting my money away and preparing to pull out of the parking lot. A guy approached my car and knocked on my driver’s side window. Startled, I rolled my window down and asked what I could help him with. He asked me a question and pointed behind me. I turned my head to look behind me to see where he was pointing and when I turned my head back towards him there was a gun in my face. Before I could yell or even think, he pulled the trigger 3 times. Not one bullet left the chamber. The gun jammed. He ran off and I took the opportunity to run back in the building and alert the staff who of course called the police. Mind you, when I ran in the building I left all of my money on the front seat of the car, car running, and car door open. He could have at taken anything, more importantly he could have taken my life. There is no other explanation than the fact that God was with me. So anytime I question whether God loves me, or if He’s still with me, even when I’m selfish and disobedient, I think back to how He spared my life and more importantly gave His for little ole me. Thank you Jesus! ~ Taken from the website…. ainglkiss.com

 

 

A Double Revival

thingsthat6000On Christmas Eve, Tracy Hermanstorfer’s heart stopped beating while she was in labor with her third child, a baby boy she and her husband, Mike, had named Coltyn. Just after receiving an epidural for the pain, she lost consciousness and went into full cardiac arrest. Doctors attempted to revive her but couldn’t, and began an emergency C-section to save the baby. But Coltyn was born limp and seemingly lifeless.

“Half of my family was lying there right in front of me, dead,” Mike said at the time. “I lost all feeling.”

Then, to his astonishment, Tracy’s pulse returned, and moments later, Coltyn began to breathe. “I’m not big-time religious,” says Tracy, “but I know this was in God’s hands.” Within a few days, mother and son were sent home with a clean bill of health.

Hospital staff commented;“We did a thorough evaluation and can’t find anything that explains why this happened.”

Mike Hermanstorfer credits “the hand of God.”

 

 

  The Dog, The Chicken, and The Bomb

thingsthat6001When David Newkirk, now a youth pastor at Church of the Open Door in Glendora, California, woke up in the middle of the night, he was still exhausted from a college basketball victory the day before.

“Twenty minutes after my head hit the pillow, I was catapulted out of the deepest sleep,” he writes in the book. Along with his mother and sister, he was jerked awake to pray for his brother Dan.

Dan was in Israel. Running out of money, he had chosen to sleep on a park bench for the night. In the wee hours of the morning, a snarling dog woke him up, battling with a chicken under the bench.

Unable to break up the animals, Dan found another bench and resumed his rest. The next morning, a bomb exploded right next to the first bench, hurtling it through the air, leaving “a mess of tangled metal and concrete.”    WOW!

 

 

 Renowned Doctor comes back from the dead.

 ANS NEWS STORY , Reported by Dan Wooding

things that 10009 Dr. Sean Thomas George, an Indian born doctor who is now a consultant physician in a West Australian hospital, told his extraordinary story before more than 220 Christian medics on the first day of the 8th Annual International Christian Medical Conference called “Spirituality and Medicine” that was held June 11-12, 2011 in Brisbane, Australia and organized by the World Christian Doctors Network.

“I was dead for 1 hour and 25 minutes, but came back to life after my wife prayed a simple prayer,” said Dr. George, who provided all kinds of medical data that he put on a large screen for the other doctors to check out.

He said that on October 24, 2008, he returned from the dead to amaze colleagues who had battled for almost 55 minutes to revive his lifeless heart.

Later in the article  it was noted,  that Dr. George spoke regarding his wife,

“Holding my hand, she prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, he is only 39, I am only 38 and we have a ten year boy. I need a miracle.’

“As soon as she said this it was as though someone had breathed life into me again and my heartbeat came back.”

The Lost Wedding Ring.

OK, I know this is not a headline breaker or a story that would ever be on the 5:O’clock news, but it was a MIRACLE to me. 🙂  (And before I experienced this miracle and had shared with others my loss, I was surprised to hear so many “miraculous” accounts of their lost wedding rings being found against all odds.) 🙂

thingsthat80039Never being a jewelry box kind of girl, I took my rings off when I would get ready for bed. I always put them in Kits bathroom drawer, (as ladies you’ll understand this,) my drawer had so much “stuff” in it, my rings could easily get lost.  One morning, when I went to put my rings on, I noticed my wedding ring was not in the drawer… I was a little jolted, but felt assured, it was somewhere in the house…thus for the next week,  and ample uncounted hours, I tore  our house a part to find it. My frustration and sadness grew daily as truly, there was no place left to look within our home, the vacuum cleaner, trashes, car etc…    I asked many people  to pray for me and received  a medley of helpful thoughts on where it could be. After about a month, exceedingly disheartened, as my wedding ring was hand designed by Kit and a jeweler with his family’s precious gems, I  felt I would never see my wedding ring again… Every time I thought about it or looked at my ring finger, it just broke my heart. I prayed so many times it would just show up, but it didn’t…

I remember a friend of mine saying, “Susan, I bet it will show up one day in place that you have already looked..” The thought comforted me as I truly do believe in miracles.

Months later, while preparing for a birthday dinner my husband was cooking in my honor, I went to our dining room hutch to get my beloved (inherited from my mom,) wisteria crystal sugar and creamer. As I took the sugar bowl from the shelf, there in the bottom of the crystal bowl was my wedding ring. I was absolutely ecstatic and began yelling out to Kit “Oh my gosh…you’ll never believe it, I found my ring.” (He too had given up hope.)  OK, the answer to the question you’re thinking? Yes, I had looked in the sugar and creamer months before ...and no it was not there. I truly believe it was a birthday gift from the Lord and that He gave me back my wedding ring.I never take it off anymore, not even when I sleep. 🙂

 I asked a few  friends te share five things that  personally makes them go “Hmm?”

Bob, A Delawarean ,(No picture please.)

1.People who wear their pajamas to shop at wall-mart. 2. People who show up at your home, unannounced, morning, noon and night, 3. O.J. Simpson, (everything about him.) 4.Randy Jackson on American Idol. Why did he say the same thing over an over for 9 years?  “YOUR IN IT TO WIN IT.”   5. Why  cat owners in my neighborhood allow their cats to roam free and pee on my porch rugs all the time.

dad206Patrick, Dana Point  California

1.  Flying squirrels   2. Oxymoron’s (actually, any moron)   3. Paradigm shifts   4. Patterns in nature – like a spider’s web,  the human brain,  or  a black hole.     5. Technology

 

neillNeill, Belfonte Pennsylvania

1. The phrase; ” This is gonna hurt me more than it will hurt you.”    2. Spiritual, but not religious (SBNR)   3. It’s absolutely free, no obligation…for the first x months, year, etc.    4. Wars on Terror (WOT?!)–everybody’s got one.    5. Processed cheese food substitute (even if edible, why would you want to?)

graham102Sir Grantham, Delaware

1. How come mom and dad get to go “potty” inside and I have to go outdoors? 2. Why do the adorable little kitties always run away from me, I just want to play? 3. Why do mom and dad sing Happy birthday all day, then make me a yummy steak, (with a big bone) and then, it takes sooooooooo long until they do it again? Every day,  I keep waiting for them to say the word “Birthday” again  4. Why doesn’t everyone love my big kisses? 5. Why does that man in the big brown truck come over to our house and bring great big boxes? (He makes me bark so hard, I almost loose my voice.)

 

formal6Susan, Delaware

1.God has no beginning and no end.(I get into real trouble if I ponder that to long.) 🙂 2. Strangers who drive by your house very slowly, turn around and do it again, and then do it again.  3.To God, a thousand YEARS is as a day, and a day, a thousand years. (Baffles my mind.) 4. Rainbows! 5. That a woman can actually carry 6 babies in her womb at one time, bring them to  full term, with all of them born healthy…(I guess that is really two Hmm’s .) 🙂

I hope you have enjoyed this vignette and that you have at least once, shaken your head and said “HMM” 🙂 In closing I will ask you the same question I asked my friends and myself, “Can you think of at least 5 things lately that have made you go hmm?”

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“IF ONLY FOR ONE NIGHT……”

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YOU are entering into an oasis of pure revery and  comfort…  your five senses are sublimely heightened as you begin sauntering through this magical and animated dining room…  The lovely banqueting table, IMG_0700set for eight, is dressed with scintillating  textures and sophisticated dinnerware , in a mixture of quill, yet stirring shades, with personalized place cards, creatively tucked into Lilliputian, shimmering silver teapots,  creating a phenomenally welcoming ambiance for an enchanted evening, shared with guests.

The beautifully bedecked, light oak dining table,  embellished with  a crisp, white Batten-burg lace, linen cloth and formal napkins, provides the perfect backdrop for the elaborate vintage silver candelabra , boastfully holding five lit, IFOnly200red taper candles with an inspiring arrangement of while  lilies, soft babies-breath and red roses …  Competing for your attention is the antiquated, heirloom silverware, and the glistening Waterford crystal framing each Lenox china dinner plate…

The aroma of fresh ginger, cinnamon, tart apples and nutmeg fills the room as a scrumptious  dutch apple pie is baking in the oven…Soft melodic tunes fill the room with a soothing, joyous calmness…Is that Michael Buble singing?

The room has a magical, elfin glow…Every tabletop alight with romantic tea light candles and  enlivened votive’s, amidst a cozy fire burning in the hearth… SUDDENLY, YOU WAKE UP, realizing this resplendent vision was only but a dream… What are you feeling right now?

Are you in 7th heaven, thinking of an occasion to celebrate, so you can invite a few friends over and create an awe-inspiring , magical dinner party? Are you looking for  a pen and paper, so you can  begin planning your menu, guest list and motif for your blithesome event?   OR…Do you feel as if you have just had a BAD nightmare, are beginning to sweat profusely ,  and are eminently relieved  when you remind yourself…It is not real… “We are not having a house full of dinner guests… it was just a dream.” 🙂

I have a handful of close friends, (men and women,) who absolutely adore  hosting parties, entertaining and blessing others with their special niche of hospitality…and I also know plenty of people who would rather go to the dentist and get a cavity filled , than attend or be a part of hosting a festive event at their home… 🙂

I was surprised to read  in the New York Times,  that the “dinner party” amongst the wealthy , socialite community,  is now  becoming extinct!  (Not quite sure why,) but I felt a bit wistful as I began the article…I don’t think it was because of all the expense these people go to , or their decadent menus and extravagant decor, (or even their intriguing, galvanizing guests lists,) IFOnly5000 but because dinner parties,  (or any type of a gathering surrounded by delicious food,) brings forth such a wondrous  opportunity for people to meet and mingle. Many a great friendship has begun from a social gathering as well as memories that last a life time. Recollections filled with an abundance of  laughter, excellent cuisine, fabulous conversations and exhilarating entertainment.  It’s hard to understand as for myself, hosting a fete within our home is something I have never fallen out of love with…My husband tells me I “look” for an occasion, (a holiday,  birthday, a  new season or even a small victory) to throw a shindig in our little haven 🙂 (And both of us still love going to gatherings at our friends homes.)

 

I have always felt thatElegantly lit holiday dinner table with white ribbon gift hosting a gala at our home is a way of expressing our love towards our family or friends…I liken it to a large box, beautifully wrapped…  Inside of this box is a medley of enjoyment, pampering, regale, enchantment, bliss, laughter, a little recreation, camaraderie and  a splendid diversion from the hectic days of the work week that so many of us need…

winterscape40Whenever I go to a ladies luncheon,  an afternoon Tea, birthday celebration or dinner at a friends, I am eminently blessed  by all the “special touches,” the hosts have gone out of their way to create for us, their guests. Whether it is the charming, beautiful and warm ambiance,  the scrumptious menu, the party favors they have so thoughtfully chosen or the cordiality and rapport   between friends… I  hate for the gathering to come to an end.

If you are one that loves to entertain, (or loves being entertained,) 🙂  is there a certain ‘celebratory event’ that is at the top of of your list? Perhaps one that is your least adored to host or attend? 🙂   There are so many special moments in life to CELEBRATE! I love them all…

 

A Baby shower I think out of all the jubilant events  within our lives, a new life and ‘longed for’  arrival, has to be one of the greatest reasons to PARTY!    Give your “new mom to be”   the center spotlight in your home, pampering her with an abundance of attention, felicitous games, delicious foods and a spectacular cake, to end all cakes… Decorating with a rainbow of pastel colors and the splendorous motif of BABIES would be so much fun!if only 16

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CELEBRATE ACHIEVEMENT. Whether from Preschool, Elementary school, High school or College… What a wonderful time of merriment for your GRADUATE! Perhaps  a big bash with a large crowd and a DJ,  or a small gathering with their favorite dance music,  friends and  family…they won’t remember the SIZE of the party… only the honor, attention and love. Give them the acclaim and acknowledgement  they deserve while  adding  a few more “Kodak moments” to their scrapbook of life. 🙂

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Light up  the grill,  turn your outside stereo speakers on high, put on the steaks, burgers, brats-worth and corn on the cob… play some touch football , throw a few frisbee’s. After dinner, enjoy telling a few (not to scary)  ghost stories around the bonfire… What is more  relaxing, and  enjoyable  than a savory meal from the grill and being outdoors with your best friends?
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There is nothing quite like celebrating friendship with our girlfriends, than gathering for an afternoon tea.  A few hours of delicious cuisine, sweet confections, herbal teas, (coffee too) 🙂 and ‘much needed,’ pampering for the soul. Whether inside , during the wintry months, (a Christmas theme is divine,) or outdoors, amidst the spring blooms, blue sky and bright sunshine, an afternoon tea is one of my favorite parties to create and host. if only 20If only 2

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A traditional Christmas drop in for your close friends and family… Does it get any better than this?  The magic of Christmas really does do all the work, as your home is beautifully decked out for the glorious season with its stellar and alluring ambiance.  Everyone is already feeling an abundance of mirth, joy and festivity…sharing delicious cookie recipes, freshly made eggnog and kisses under the mistletoe. 🙂 I think its safe to say, it is one of all of our “all time favorite occasions” to celebrate within our home.

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Perhaps your love for suspense, intrigue, and “drama~drama” inspires you to host a Murder Mystery Dinner for your close friends and family! Setting the stage is exciting, choosing the plot is euphoric and everyone playing their part amidst delicious cuisine, and festive snacks, is something you can’t wait to do each year…if only7if only 60

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A Bridal shower for your best friend? Another honor… Marriage  is at the top of my list for a jubilant celebration! Surround the  “bride to be”  with a kaleidoscope of charismatic color, sweet indulgences, exciting games, gifts and an elegant, (to beautiful to cut into,) cake for her parties Grand Finale. 🙂  IFOnly5010

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How about a romantic dinner for those few “couple friends” that  you and your mate are so blessed to have in your life. Bestow  each guest with a stellar meal, candlelight, romantic music and create an evening they will never forget. (How about sharing how you all met your mate and the “moment” you knew you were in love with them. 😉1night

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There is always that relished moment, when your phone rings and it is one of your close siblings or a dear friend from your youth?  They have never been to your part of the country and want to come and stay for a few days?

 How much fun is it to set up your guest room with fresh flowers, a bottle of their favorite wine, your luxurious  linens, eiderdown comforters, a box of Sees candy and a freshly scented candle for the season.. I Love all the late night chats in P’J’s, sharing memories of our childhood days, (even though we both remember them ‘ so differently.’ 🙂 There is something so special about having them with you, to share in your daily  life, as your worlds seems so far apart with the geographical distance between you. (Kind of makes you feel all warm and cozy inside…) 🙂
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There are so many landmarks within our lives to celebrate and if you are one that adores entertaining, it is such a special gift that only you, with your signature style, can give to the world!
I began thinking …what would SPARK UP the desire for “everyone ” to put their best foot forward and really get excited about planning a menu, table scape and a  memorable  motif, happily creating one of the most unforgettable evenings  of your life… Here is my challenge, (as well as enjoyable endeavor) for you in this vignette…
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 WHAT IF, “FOR ONLY ONE NIGHT,”  YOU COULD ASK 5 FAMOUS CELEBRITIES, (THAT ARE LIVING TODAY) TO COME TO YOUR HOME FOR A DINNER PARTY? IT’S ALREADY A GIVEN THAT THEY WILL ALL SAY YES…(THIS IS YOUR DREAM,THUS ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.)
First off,  WHO would your five dinner guests be? (BTW, your spouse/sweetheart is already included, so they don’t count as your top Five.)
WHY these five in particular?
What would  your MENU be? (Dessert? Appetizers?)
 What would your table-scape presentation and AMBIANCE be? Formal? Casual?
What would you WEAR?
What dinner MUSIC would you play?
Lastly, what would your delightful, creatively wrapped PARTY FAVOR be for each guest? The same bestowal  for everyone or a specialized gift for each celebrity?

 

 

Before you begin envisioning your “If only for one night” dream dinner, lets look at  a few thoughts from a diversity of people on “celebrating delicious food,  good friends and convivial spirit.”

 

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“The ornaments of your house will be the guests who frequent it. “ ~Author Unknown

“Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even if you wish they were. ” ~Author Unknown

“If I were invited to a dinner partyIFOnly5008 with my characters, I wouldn’t show up.”
– Dr. Seuss
“I try to greet my friends with a drink in my hand, a warm smile on my face, and great music in the background, because that’s what gets a dinner party off to a fun start.” ~  Ina Garten
“At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom.” ~ George Carlin
“That’s the secret of entertaining. You
make your guests feel welcome and at home. If you do that honestly, the rest takes care of itself.” ~  Barbara Hall
IFOnly5005“I can get a better grasp of what is going on in the world from one good Washington dinner party, than from all the background information NBC piles on my desk.” ~ Barbara Walters
“My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.” ~ Orson Welles
“If more of us valued food andIFonly5017 cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”
~ George Bernard Shaw

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“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”~ Cesar Chavez

 For your “IF only for one night” dream dinner , are you a person who loves to create a formal atmosphere, really “Putin-on-the-Ritz,” for your guests, using your fine china, silver, crystal and finding just the right centerpiece with an elaborate pizzazz?

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Or, are you more of a “casual” person, favoring simplicity, home cooking, a cozy , warm and welcoming ambiance?

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What would your “eye catching” centerpiece be on your dining Table?

A colorful, fetching, elaborate,  formal  centerpiece or something  very easy on the eyes, simple and casual? Or perhaps you may choose your centerpiece to be a medley of glistening candles, creating a simple, ethereal  table. Here are few ideas for both formal as well as casual, seasonal centerpieces for your table-scape.

For the magical season of WINTER…

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Spring is in the air with these two elegant and classy, diverse table-scape ideas.

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Summer has never looked more inviting… Its a great time to celebrate with ambrosial food, festive drinks amongst wonderful people.

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Autumns vibrant colors of  nature provide ample ideas for your festive gathering’s table!

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What would you serve? Would you have it catered? Hire a professional chef for the evening? Cook your favorite recipes for your guests? Would it be a Buffet style or formal , sit down or a 5 course meal? How about wine or hordevoires?

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What is your ideal “dinner music?”  Country Western? Pop? R&B? Symphony music, flute and guitar? Perhaps you adore Opera, Piano tunes, romantic melodies or the magical sounds of Mannheim Steamroller…    You can always create a playlist for when your guests are arriving, (with a medley of artists,)  and choose a softer dinner music while dining.

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What would you serve  for dessert?

Something fancy, delectable and memorable,  like Bananas Foster, chocolate suicide cake, chocolate mousse with fresh red raspberry’s, or scrumptious coconut carrot cake? You can never go wrong with freshly baked hot apple pie, a la mode, fresh berries with whipped cream, cheesecake and strawberries or or a good, old fashioned, American favorite, a hot fudge sundae.

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IMHO….You have got to have some candle light going on…a few taper or column candles,  votive’s and tea lights to create a warm, convivial spirit.. and at least one soft scented Yankee candle,(or another brand you enjoy,)  to give your home a delicious fragrance, all night long..

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Have you decided what your Party Favor gift would be at each guests table setting? It can be the smallest thing, to the grandest gift that is within your heart to give them… How would you wrap it?

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I decided to interview a few special people in my life with this same challenge I am giving to you, (as well as myself.) Our  “If only for one night” dream dinner…They all surprised me with things I never knew about them, (especially with who their top five would be.)  I started thinking,  this challenge would be a great “Icebreaker” at any  party to get to know your guests better. 🙂

I know when I envisioned and created  my “If only for one night,” will-o-the-wisp,   It was like a dream..dreams7 I envisioned  what it would feel like, as each guest arrived and entered into our home. How special it would feel to get to meet 5 people I admire and  have received so much joy and smiles from.  Even though it is through our television, my computer,  the radio or the Big Screen,  these five  people have brought my life an abundance of heartfelt emotions,  richness, inspiration, enjoyment and of course LAUGHTER!  Getting to meet them in person and share a meal and evening together was a great “Chimera”… I felt excited, feeling that I could actually bless them, by giving them something no one else could…my cooking, our home embellished with festive colors, warmth and enchantment as well  as sharing how much each of them have touched my life through their amazing talents and giving  hearts. I chose each one of them for a specific reason… It truly was a lot of fun. Some of the people I interviewed asked me; “Susan, can I have more than five guests? Can I do it twice? (They couldn’t decide who they would ask, with a choice of only five and enjoyed the challenge  of creating their  “If only for one night” dream evening.”  🙂

Lets take a look at a  what a few special people, ( with diverse backgrounds,)  chose for there “If only for one night” dinner or gala…(as it can be whatever you imagine it to be…)

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#1. Patrick, an incredible high school  Counselor who lives on the coast, in Southern California.

“MY Five dinner guest would be: Brad Pitt, Diane Ravitch, Meryl Streep, Anderson Cooper and Bill Gates. My interest is about Education.”

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I choose these particular five guests, BECAUSE: ( IN ORDER of photos)  Brad Pitt has a great heart and has a lot of influence in the Media. Diane Ravitch is very well known in the field of Education and has studied trends in this particular field and she’s leaning toward public schools…although at one time,  she was an advocate for charter schools.   Meryl Streep is just a person I really like. Anderson Cooper has an investigative mind and influence in the news world. Bill Gates has the money to finance ideas and he’s leaning toward charter schools.

MY MENU?

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Broiled scallops wrapped in figs or bacon as an appetizer,  a fresh made tomato soup from a local restaurant, (that I love),  broiled salmon in a mustard-dill sauce with asparagus lightly broiled with garlic, and a creme Brulee for dessert, that has a hint of lavender. Fresh roasted bean coffee would be served in the living room by the fireplace with dessert. Wine served  upon request.

MY AMBIANCE AND TABLE-SCAPE.

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My patina would be a bit on the formal side. I would use my  formal china along with red taper candles.    My Table would be set with a white lace linen from Slovenia, linen napkins, crystal Waterford candle holders, Wedgwood china, crystal water and wine glasses.

 I WOULD WEAR something casual and comfortable, my khakis and a nice, light yellow sweater, made out of a soft wool. IN MY HOME…no one can wear any shoes. 🙂

MY DINNER MUSIC?

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The melodic music of  Eva Cassidy as well as Contemporary Jazz music and  Jazz singers.

PARTY FAVOR?

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My  special gift to each guest would be a book of poetry or the book , “The smartest kids in the world.” Maybe a different book for each guest.

 

#2. KIT!  A great Website designer who lives in Delaware  🙂IFOnly5025

 

“My top  five would be: Tom Clancy, Bill Cosby, Condoleezza  Rice, Mrs. Ronald Regan and Justin Timberlake.”

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I chose these dinner guests BECAUSE: Author Tom Clancy has such a wonderful background, has done an abundance of research and has a very interesting story to tell. Bill Cosby is extremely intelligent with such a diverse background. I would love to hear about his insights on people, his life and the world. Condoleezza Rice is a strong woman who has survived in the political world. She has a great perspective on the government, our leaders and other countries. Mrs. Regan is a woman who has served at a high level in politics, has a great perspective about the TRUTHS that have taken place in our country as well as the truth about what is happening in our country today. Justin Timberlake is very down to earth in his approach to respecting people, extremely intelligent and talented on many levels and doesn’t act like he’s rich and famous.

MY MENU?

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I would serve Coho salmon, steamed in a white wine and dill sauce, served over  brown rice with sweet peas, steamed asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, and for dessert, a flour-less chocolate tart with fresh strawberries.

MY AMBIANCE?

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MY AMBIANCEwould be very casual…with a autumn motif, our blue and white china, water glasses, a medley of fall, linen napkins,  and a few candles. Very simple.

I WOULD WEAR my black jeans with a long sleeve shirt, very comfortable and relaxed.

 

Dinner Music?

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“There’s going to be some changes made” DVD with Bruce Hornsby and friends.

 

Party Favor?

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Lastly, my gift to each guest? A very nice picture frame.  I would bring out my  camera that takes instant photos..I would ask each of my guest to have a photo taken with me…and ask each of them to sign their name…  They  would each take home a photo of themselves with me, and I would have 5 treasured photos of myself with each guest. Great memories to last a life time of this special and memorable  evening.

 

only110#3 Ellie.  A beautiful lady, happily living in Delaware after a fascinating career at the Patton office in Washington DC.

“MY GUESTS OF HONOR WOULD BE, Charles Krauthammer , George W. Bush, Reverend Billy Graham, Ben Carson and Donald Trump.”

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 Charles Krauthammer, (famous on Fox news,) holds many degrees and is greatly  studied in Politics.I admire and respect his opinions and think he is awesome. George W. Bush is just a very classy man!  Reverend Billy Graham I have always looked up to him as a true Christian who loves the Lord.  Ben Carson, is the top Brain Surgeon at Jon Hopkins in Baltimore. His life story is amazing. His mother is his hero.  He came from a poor family and his mother brought him up with love and taught him that just because your poor does not mean you will fail in life. Donald Trump, I would ask him what stock to buy. 🙂

MY Menu?

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I would serve a traditional American meal.  Roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls and salad with cheesecake for desert. Coffee and wine upon request.

MY AMBIANCE

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I would like to set a casual table but elegant too.  A beautiful linen table cloth with matching napkins, water and wine glasses as well as a baronial service plate. For my centerpiece, I would chose a colorful, welcoming fresh flower arrangement  that is the perfect height, (not to tall) so we can all see one another across the table. 🙂

 

I would wear a long sleeved,  black dress with stockings and a pair of low heels, accented with just a touch of gold jewelry.

Dinner Music?

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Nothing with a vocalist, just quiet, calming music, maybe a CD of piano music, bass and violin.

Party Favor?

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It  would be something with the names of the guest’s and the date, maybe a gold key chain.

 

IFonly500Gin. A lovely, creative, artistic lady who lives in the Midwest.

MY FIVE SPECIAL GUESTS? Reverend Billy Graham, Presidents; Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and George Bush SR.

 

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Billy Graham has counseled all of the presidents of The United States and would have a great input on what is happening in our country today. I would invite the four previous presidents, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and George Bush SR. to have an informative  discussion, ( with their much appreciated  opinions) on where we are at now as a country , the White House, economy and foreign policy.

MY MENU?

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For my guests appetizer, I would serve a homemade Oxtail soup with sour cream. For dinner, Beef Stroganoff, A Bib lettuce salad with mushrooms, orange slices and almonds, with a sweet vinaigrette, along with hot croissants and butter. I would serve either a nice bottle of Merlot or a rich, red Zinfandel. For dessert , a chocolate mousse cake with an amaretto sour cream sauce, served with champagne or a glass of  sherry.

MY AMBIANCE?

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My patina would be formal. An Irish linen table cloth with napkins, my Crown Emerald Green China, green crystal goblets, tall, white taper candles, a flower arrangement of blush pink roses with white iris’s, and champagne and sherry glasses for each guests choice of  an after dinner drink with dessert.

I WOULD WEAR a cashmere sweater with a long black skirt.

Dinner Music?

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George Winston Piano melodies… soothing and enchanting.

Party favors?

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Each guest would receive a different, beautifully photographed, coffee-table book about the White House.

 

I-97 #5. Sir Grantham!

 

 

My top five… Patrick, Cheryl, Ellie, and Susan and Kit. (We are “celebrities” in his eyes.) 🙂

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I would ask these special guests to my dinner party because Patrick ‘actually gets down on the floor and plays with me for longer than 10 minutes.’ Cheryl , when she spent the night, stays awake with me in the middle of the night, talks to me and pets me…(so I don’t feel lonely, when Kit and Susan are sleeping.)  Ellie, because she always gives me treats…ham bones, beef bones, bacon strips, “you name it.” …and last but not least, Susan and Kit because THEY ARE MY HEART &  HOME!

MY MENU?

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Grilled Porter house steaks for everyone, but I  get ALL the bones!

MY AMBIANCE?

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I’m easy… just throw a red check table cloth on the floor, we’ll use dad’s china plates and for my centerpiece, a bright, fire engine red, (highlighted with white rawhide bones,) doggy biscuit holder.

 

I I-98AM WEARING my fur coat as my red sweater is way to small for me now!

 

 

My Dinner music?

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Its always a toss up between my two favorite CD’s…maybe everyone will stay long enough for me to play both!

MY parting Gift?

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I would give each of my guests a choice of something special to remember me buy. 🙂

Susanhat Susan… The blog writer… who is hoping that you are enjoying this ” IF, Only for one night,” vignette. 🙂

 

My Five  guests would be, T.D Jakes, Justin Timberlake, (No I did not copy Kit,) Tyler Perry, (and he can come as Medea if he would like to,) Usher and Denzel Washington.

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I would invite T.D. Jakes for his beautiful spirit and love for the Lord, (as well as his keeping Justin and Usher in line,) 🙂 (Just joshing.)  Justin Timberlake because he is funny, exceedingly talented and a GREAT  dancer and musician. (I secretly hope he and Usher will sing a few  duets and teach us some great dance steps after dinner.)  Tyler Perry / Medea because I think he is a brilliant man, producer, actor and is tremendously  entertaining, as well as hilarious.  In hearing about his challenging life as a child and witnessing what he has done with his life, I am very impressed and inspired!  Usher, because he too is a great singer, dancer and has a big heart. He seems to be a genuinely NICE person, (in watching him as a judge on The Voice.) Lastly, My all time favorite actor is Denzel...his  biography is endless and I  would love to hear about  all the people he has met and worked with as well as his views on life.

My Menu?

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I would serve my BBQ pulled pork nachos for an appetizer…For the entree, A Caesar salad, Prime Rib (Medium rare) with  creamy horseradish sauce, baked potato, asparagus and hollandaise sauce, pumpernickel bread with fresh butter (stars) 🙂   and homemade coconut carrot cake for dessert with coffee. Wine upon request!

Ambiance?

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I would serve a formal dinner with my antique china, lace tablecloth, crystal water and wine glasses, if any of my guests would like a glass of wine, candle light everywhere, 🙂 and dessert and coffee served in the living room, (where Justin and Usher will be entertaining us, (and maybe Medea too) 🙂

I would wear my long black velvet dress with black pumps, pearl earrings and necklace to match.

 

Dinner Music?

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Dinner music? While everyone is arriving and we are having appetizers, I’d have a  play-list on with a little Bebe Winan gospel-contemporary Christian music,  and Justin and Usher, (clean) tunes playing…while we are dining, I’d switch to Victoria Secrets London symphony orchestra melodic CD..

Party Favor?

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A digital camera.. I would place their gift on their salad plate and have everyone open it at the same time…(I would have my own camera already out…) and invite everyone to take as many photos as they want during the evening…(I know I will be a camera hog the entire night.) 🙂 Its true what they say…  “A picture says a thousand words and the memories it brings,  lasts a lifetime.”

I hope you have enjoyed spending some time thinking about what your evening would be like with the famous and renowned people you chose to invite…celebrity1 Did it surprise you at all when you decided who your top five would be? Did your choices surprise others? It definitely gives you an insight into your life as well as reveals what you are  interested in, during this season of your life. (Politics? Americas’ future? Input on where Education is going within our country? A hunger for knowledge in areas of interest within your life from someone who is an expertise ?  A desire to learn more about human nature, ones travels and experiences? Or perhaps, to just be entertained, laugh abundantly and dance? 🙂

My last challenge to you… Keep  the dinner you have planned for your five renowned celebrities within your heart. ( All of  the decor ideas, presentation, menu, music, lighting, gifts,)  and invite Five of your favorite people in this entire world, and bestow upon  them the very same evening…  If some of your favorite people live out of state, plan the party for next year , or better yet, Christmas 2014…give them time to save up for their airfare, or long road trip.  🙂  Take some time to plan who those five people would be… after all, they are the real stars of your life:) (Sounds corny, I know, but you know its true!) 🙂

 

And always keep dreaming , for our dreams really can and often do, come true. 🙂

dreams1dreams2

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