Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our Wine Country Kitchen with Chef Aaron


I am featuring the kitchen in our Wine Country home for "Show and Tell Friday" and "Foodie Friday" as well. It seemed like a logical segue from my last post of the dining room and tablescape.

The view above takes in most of the room, which is basically round, or octagon shaped. The floor is gray/green cement.

Looking to the right is an industrial shelving unit with the cookware and plates, stove and sink. The door leads out to the vegetable garden. The previous owner left us the shelving units, barstools, window coverings, and even the cookware!

Close up of the industrial Thermador range, and the subway tile backsplash.

The ceramic tray of oils, vinegars, salt and herbs at the ready.

One of two sinks. This one looks out to the old oak tree. I love the Carrera marble countertops.

A close up of the Fortuny fabric roman shades used throughout the kitchen. The previous owner has a window covering business, so I feel lucky that all the curtains and blinds in the house are actually to my taste.

Looking to the left of the room is another industrial shelving unit, and a cozy seating area.

Originally, this area was used as a kitchen dining area, but sister-in-law Ann talked me in to getting rid of the table and chairs and creating a seating area instead. The best idea yet! I love sitting here watching whoever is cooking, or having my morning coffee. The chairs are from Crate and Barrel. The pillows are also Fortuny.

The shelving unit to the left with plates, linens, cookbooks and serving pieces.

Close up of my majolica pieces. The green plates in the middle are actually plastic. Perfect for serving outside.

This old wooden wine box came in handy for storing Pellegrino.

The view from the seating area. The island dominates the room with it's higher than usual countertop, two dishwashers and another sink. I find it interesting the mix of high and low end materials in this kitchen. The cabinets are inexpensive MDF Thermofoil, yet expensive Carrera marble tops them. Most of the appliances are high end, yet the refrigerator isn't. Just an interesting side note.

Close up of the island countertop.

The wall cabinet behind the island, which I featured in a previous post.

Close up of inside the wall cabinet with some of my bistro ware.

Back to the beginning. We just made a big circle around the room!

We enjoy cooking in this kitchen, as do our two "foodie" kids. While visiting for the weekend a few weeks ago, Aaron, my "culinary autodidact"son made the most incredible dish. Homemade ricotta gnocchis with a quail boullinaise sauce. Delicious!

I attempted to photograph him in the process of making this dish:

He first assembled his ingredients, or "mise en place."

He pulled all the meat off the four quails.

He then sauted it all together with some tomato sauce and paste.


While the boullinaise was simmering, he made the ricotta gnocchis.

And there you have it: a very hearty meal! Sorry, I don't have the recipe. It's all in Aaron's head!

I'm joining Cindy at My Romantic Home for "Show and Tell Friday."
I'm also joining the potluck "Foodie Friday" hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum.
Be sure to check out both of these blogs for recipes and inspiration.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rural Scenes Tablescape


Just for fun last weekend, I decided to create a tablescape using the dishes on the dining room hutch. I imagined a table set for a casual lunch with our neighbors down the road.

My friend Diana found this plate at an estate sale and gave it to me for my birthday several years ago. I then went crazy trying to find more of this pattern! It is called "Rural Scenes" which was designed by Clarice Cliff for Royal Staffordshire.

I used a natural theme for this tablescape using twig placemats and worn wood candle holders, tray and containers for the paperwhites.

The napkins are French ticking.

The table is rough hewn teak--very rustic.


The pastoral scene on the plate is of woodsmen hard at work, with their wives and children watching. It is particularly endearing to me because my father was a lumberjack.

I love the border with the harvest tools and bee skep in brown transferware.


Looking through the pocket doors into the dining room.

Looking down the table toward the kitchen with all the candles aglow.

The candles all lit in the chandelier above.


The wall sconce.


More candlelight.

This pattern comes in mulberry, blue and red as well. I have the mulberry plates which are perfect for Easter.

The platter has a lovely pastoral scene of a man feeding chickens.

Another look at the hutch with the plates on display.

I'm joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. Be sure to visit and see all the other participants and their beautiful tables.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Monet's Grande Allee and more.....



Monet's garden at Giverney is such an inspiration to me. I have been there three times, but never in fall or winter. When people think of Monet's garden, they think of the lily pond. But I think of the Grande Allee. Here it is in winter.


Here it is in spring looking toward Monet's house.




In late summer, Nasturtiums trail across the path.


I was so inspired by Monet's garden that I built my own "grande allee" in our backyard and planted Cecile Brunner roses to climb up and over. To create the allee, I used nine arbors and spaced them apart. These Monet like arbors can be purchased at Kinsman Garden Co.


When we bought our vacation home in the wine country, it came with this arbor path. Concord and Thompson seedless grapes climb up and over.


This arbor can be found at Araujo Vineyards in Napa County.


I found a photo of the walkway at the National Gardens in Athens. It reminds me of our Sonoma style arbor. Another garden to put on my list to visit!

If you ever get a chance to visit Giverny, you won't be disappointed. For more information about Giverny and Monet's home and garden, click here.

For information on the National Gardens in Athens, Greece, click here.

I'm linking up to Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday. Be sure to visit and see other outdoor photography and inspiration.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Collecting Portuguese Majolica



Above is my very first piece of Bordallo Pinheiro Majolica. This chicken is an example of the pottery made by the 120 year old factory in Portugal.

I have been collecting vintage majolica for years. (More on that later!) So, I found that the pottery from Portugal mixes nicely with the older, vintage European majolica in my collection.

Same chicken, different color! I've even seen this chicken converted to a gorgeous lamp.

The little chicken above is one I found on Ebay.

A cute chicken tureen.

Another soup tureen with basket detail on the base.

This lovely covered dish is adorned with acorns. I love this piece!

The same piece in green with matching platter.

I'm fairly certain this jardiniere is made in Portugal, but there is no stamp on the bottom.

A perfect little pitcher for holding leftover amaryllis flowers.

Most of us have seen this plate. The green cabbage leaf charger which can be found at discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Sur la Table also has carried this.
I have too many to tell of these charger plates! They come in handy as buffet plates. Most of my friends have these also, and we have been known to combine them for large parties.

As if the green plates weren't enough, I had to have them in red too! Perfect for Christmas.

Matching red cake stand to go with.


Purple? Of course! Perfect for Easter!

I also have way too many of these salad plates. They seem to go with everything, as I love to mix and match dishes when creating table settings.

Another fun salad plate in the form of a grape leaf with red and yellow edging.

A lovely salad plate with basket weave detailing.

I only have one of these plates. I believe it is a reproduction of a classic lily pattern made in Germany at the turn of the century by Villeroy & Boch.

A drawer full of platters, bowls and serving pieces. To be honest, I collect these pieces because they are not only colorful, but very reasonable. All of the above were purchased at TJ Maxx or Marshalls at one time or another! For some reason, they just make my heart skip a beat!

All of the pieces shown above come with this stamp representing the factory where they are currently being made today in the town of Caldas da Rainha

This is an older bowl found at an estate sale. The stamp on the back is engraved.


This little ceramic deer is a work of art. He is extremely delicate; almost like a Lladro with the paper thin flowers on the base. I found him on Ebay from a dealer in Portugal.

Can you see the stamp on the back? It has the typical Bordallo Pinheiro stamp engraved, but also has the words: "Arte Bardalo Caldas"

Isn't he just beautiful!

And finally, I couldn't help create a little vignette of candle holders and Narcissus.

I think Caldas da Rainha would be a wonderful city to visit. Not only is it known for the famous factory and museum of Bordallo Pinheiro, but actually, Caldas da Rainha is better known for its sulfuric waters, from which it got its name, which means the Queen's hot springs. Think of it as a spa town!
For information about Caldas da Rainha, click here.


The factory of Faiancas Aristicas Bordallo Pinheiro has a beautiful website. For more information, click here.

I'm joining Suzanne at Privet and Holly for Mrs. Magpie's Collector's Edition.


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