Sunday, May 29, 2011

Unknown and Known

When we started out our married journey 35 years ago on 5/29/76, we certainly didn't know what was ahead. We didn't know where our careers would take us - and how we would manage to pay the rent and bills. We didn't know the size our family would grow to be and how the joys of parenthood would far surpass our expectations. We would know heartbreak in getting our family started as well.

We didn't know we would be able to travel the world as much as we have, yet find the most satisfaction in having "home" be wherever we could be together.

We didn't know my father would pass away before our kids really got to know him. We were blessed to get to see my mother live until the age of 86, and see her grandchildren reach adulthood. We have been able to see Wes' parents continue their life journey to this day. We didn't know how the lives of our siblings would turn out - the marriages (and unfortunately the divorces) and nieces and nephews we would welcome.
We didn't know that, in addition to Anne and John, we would add Jed and Kari to our family.
And Ellie!
We did know at the time of our wedding that we were surrounded in love by family and friends.
Dear to us, you are, and we thank you for being on this journey with us!

Monday, May 23, 2011

M & M Get Married in Michigan (Pink Suitcase Chronicles #37)

Ah, wedding season is upon us! And I love it. Why? Simply because weddings celebrate love, family ties, friendships, young and
old(er) people together, pretty females in special dresses, handsome males in suits and ties - and happiness bubbles over like no other time in life aside from the birth of a child. I am a huge fan of happy!
Our family (minus little Miss E.) celebrated the wedding of Mike G. and his beautiful bride, Meghan N. together in Michigan this past weekend. Mike is John's long, long time friend from elementary school and Anne has been like a pseudo big sister to Mike; Wes and I consider Mike to be a part of our family, too.
How I remember the antics (and mischief) these two could get into together in the past - the volcano "explosions" in the kitchen while I was busy ironing upstairs, the time I looked out the window to see both boys standing on top of our shed, the forts they built from curbside refuge, the sleepovers where I feared to see the "morning after" effects. Many years later, it was Mike that made John tell us about John's blind date with Kari and their budding romance. These memories came flooding back to us as we watched Mike making his vows to Meghan, and both of us were rather teary and choked up. We love this guy.
It wasn't all that long ago that Mike gave the toast at John and Kari's wedding and that teared us up as well. We know we have been blessed to have Mike in our lives, and now Meghan will be blessed as well to have him as her husband.
I loved the colors - and style - of the bridesmaids dresses. Perfect for a spring wedding.
May is a special month for wedding memories for us, too. Soon we'll celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. Once we got to the reception venue (let's talk about charming here, it was in an old classic theatre ballroom) the eating and celebrating continued. After Meghan danced a bit with her father, all fathers were invited to share in the dance with their daughters.
Meaning that after Mike danced with his mother, Penny, all mother's were invited to dance with their sons. Here we are.
Seeing my four dance together certainly warranted yet another camera pull-out!
Though, I am not quite sure that one in this picture was excited to see the camera pulled out yet again --- I apologize.
Wishing you a very long and happy marriage, Meghan and Mike. Thanks for including us in your special day!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

With All the Trimmings

Somehow I have ended up with yards, yards, and more yards of vintage trimmings from the past: rick rack, bias binding, piping, loop braid, soutache braid, and seam binding tape. Not one to throw away such goodies, I am determined to use them in my craft-making as much as possible. My latest book obsession is WEE WONDERFULS by Hillary Lang and these trim-using projects were taken from her book.
Project #1: Wooden spoon puppets of Hansel and Gretel. The cream mini rick rack was used to trim out his hat and outfit, and her dress bodice.
For some reason the pair remind me of an ethnic American Gothic couple.
Project #2: Storybook Girl. She can be Little Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks. Her hair is made from yards of polyester foldover braid opened up and stitched down. The cape trim is red bias binding trim and her inner dress uses bias binding trim and foldover looped binding.
( Note the close-up of the poly braid hair.)
Project #3 Haus Sweet Haus: finally, I show you a little cottage that features brown bias binding hand-stitched to create a Tudor look for the little little gnomes I found at the thrift store.
By now, you might have noticed the large wooden dollhouse as a backdrop for the photographed trim-using projects. This is one of my best thrift store scores ever! It is going to have a complete makeover eventually for fun at Gramma's house. It's architecture is Cape Cod with 2 dormers, shutters on the windows, and much potential and the purchase price? A steal at $10.00 including furniture!
Sometimes I think it could be a crime to have this much fun at my age!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Let's Whip Up Some "Besotted" Clotted Cream (Royal Wedding)

At our tea party, I knew we needed a very special menu to celebrate the Royal nuptials. Much thought was put into planning this menu with its selections that personally related to the life and times of Will and Kate. For example in the menu STARTERS I made Prince Phillip's Squash Soup as the grandfather of the groom (Phillip) had been out playing the game of squash when Prince Charles was being born. I roasted the butternut squash and then used a recipe to make the soup. Yes, I made up the name of the soup; don't look for it in any cookbook! In the presentation, I piped sour cream to look like "C" for Catherine and "W" for Will, but I need to perfect those skills as you can see below.

Following the soup and Jolly Good Champagne course, the SCONES selections were served. A chocolate chip scone, which I called Will's Request "I Love Chocolate" scones due to his desire to have the Groom's cake of chocolate biscuits. The plain scones were called Kate's Plain "Tired of Waiting" scones due to their exceedingly lengthy courtship. The scones were served with Queen Mum's Orange Marmalade and clotted cream, sometimes known as Devonshire cream. Due to the nature of Charles and Camilla's relationship, I called the clotted cream Charles and Camilla's "Besotted Clotted" Cream. Lucky you - I am going to give you a recipe for the delicious dollops you can spread on your own scones:


1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with a mixer until stiff. Refrigerate until ready to use. Best when prepared and served on the same day. Makes 1 to 1 1/2 cups.

There were four kinds of TEA SANDWICHES served: Uncle Gary's "Turkey" Sandwiches served on Raisin "Nut" Bread (google him to find out the turkey and nut connection), Upper Crust Cucumber Sandwiches, Pippa's Perfectly Petite Poultry Popovers (chicken cream puffs), and Old Goat Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches. I choose to not elaborate publicly as to why I named these sandwiches accordingly.
Finally, we arrived at the culinary destination of DESSERTS. A very typical British tea cake is the Victorian Sponge Sandwich which is neither sandwichy or cakey. It has layers of lemon curd and raspberry jam.
Most assuredly tea and coffee was served with this cake. After having spent much time polishing my Mom's silver tea service set, I may or may not have poured the hot beverages from these spouts. I'm counting on "What happens at Lady Debra's tea parties, stays at Lady Debra's tea party" confidentiality.
There, you have it, dear readers. I believe that, as of this post, I have worked through the
Royal Wedding memories cranial file. But, there be more brewing...I don't quite want to close the chapter on this happy time quite yet. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Let's Discuss Royal HATitude

Watching the Royal Wedding guests as they made their way into Westminster Abbey was a sight to behold as they waved and held on to their hats. Oh, those magnificent hats! One might even elect to click on this link here to find what many considered to be the best and worst 18 hats of the "parade" at
Pictured above left to right, we see Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, and Zara Philips, daughter of Princess Ann and soon to become a bride herself as she marries on July 30 of this year. Not shown here, but quite worth noting were the two hats worn by sisters Princess Beatrice with the blush rose-coloured oversized Seussical bow and the teal Peter Pan-ish fascinator dipping on the forehead of Princess Eugenie. Perhaps they selected their hats in the dark while sailing on an ocean of waves which scrambled their gray matter? The bride's Mum, Carole Middleton, wore a most becoming hat in dove gray/blue.
I also enjoyed the peachy hat worn by Princess Victoria of Sweden.
Which brings me next to the Royal channeling my sister and I did when planning our Royal Tea Party outfits. She dressed, surely, to look like the Queen herself. She had jewelry, pins, a chest sash, a huge ring from the Royal vaults and her modest day tiara which was eventually traded in for the much less modest tiara worn by Lady Elizabeth.
I, on the other hand, looked far more like the beloved Queen Mum. My two piece ensemble featured a jacket and dress and was Vintage Design. Several strands of pearls hung around my neck. I, too, wore a veiled aqua hat. My hair was curled, sprayed and impenetrable. Gloves, most certainly!
Not wanting my party guests to feel the sting of having to purchase a hat (did you realise those concoctions worn at the wedding were hundreds, if not thousands of dollars?) I supplied them with hats from my vintage collection which featured mostly floral and pastel selections. Thanks to Ellie's draped high chair and a spare mirror from the storage vault (known as the basement) a hat-trying-on stage was created. Here the sister guests tried on this and that to find just the right "look" for the party.
Shown below, Lady Elizabeth and her sister, Lady Martha Jean. Lady E flew in to the area from California just to be a participant in the televised wedding viewing and festivities. Most impressive.
We were our own paparazzi with cameras. We were in jolly good form, I might add. Here are the three Ladies - Lady Diann, Lady Elizabeth and Lady Martha Jean now ready to sit down to the Royal Tea Party about to commence in the dining room. Lady Diann looks none the worse for wear after having had her sister, Lady Debra, accidentally poke the hat pin into her scalp just moments before this picture was taken. Ah, the price one pays for dressing like a Royal with HATitude!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Let's Talk About THE Dress (Royal Wedding)

Here we are in all our early wedding morning glory! My sister came to sleep over at my house, so we could set our alarms for 2:50 AM and watch all the pre-wedding excitement on the telly. The discussion came up before the bride's dress was revealed and I told Diann I thought the dress would be figure-fitting and have long sleeves in lace. While we waited for the bride to come out of the hotel, we enjoyed the BBC television coverage of the wedding guests arriving at Westminster Abbey. (I was in heaven seeing all the hats and fascinators being worn...not a big fan of the Sarah/Andrew daughter's concoctions.) Please excuse the quality of the following pictures - they were taken right from the television screen. Here we see Catherine getting out of the car - and yes it does look like she was wearing a dress much like the one I had imagined! I thought Pippa's dress was a stunner as well.
Perfect, perfect, perfect.
I loved how Catherine looked so composed, relaxed and happy. Someone must have had the talk with her about stopping to take in the moment. She also had the sweetest wave to her adoring watchers.
The train of the dress was just the right length. (While composing this blog, I have heard that Facebook has already 72,000 fans of Pippa's posterior. Lucky gal.)
Here we see the bride with her veil over her face; I loved the non-froofyness of it with the tiara.
Look out how the dress emphasizes her tiny waist. And, didn't you just love the way Will held her hand here and as they walked in the recessional down the long aisle once pronounced husband and wife?
At first, I thought it was Will wearing the blue military garb in the car that the brothers took to the wedding. Harry's is certainly fancier than the red outfit Will wore, but Will 's coat cuffs were most assuredly more impressive.
Coming out of the Cathedral to the awaiting horse-drawn carriage was yet another high point of the wedding celebration. They make quite a smashing couple, don't you think?
Recap: I loved her wedding dress! But it wasn't just the dress, it was the way Kate carried herself in it. She looked - and acted - every inch a Princess as I would expect a Princess to look and present herself on her wedding day.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Let's Start By Setting the Table (Royal Wedding Tea Party)

When entertaining guests for any party, the first plan I come up with is how the table should be set. It's not often I entertain with royalty in mind as a REAL Prince marries his Princess bride! Of course, the engagement ring* of Catherine Middleton with its sapphire gem and the blue of the Union Jack flag had everything to do with the Royal Wedding Tea Party decor. I used a navy blue tablecloth and placed wide white ribbon (leftover from the pew bows at Anne and Jed's wedding) and narrower red ribbon on top with a "+" and an "x" pattern to replicate the British flag. The special china given to me through my in-laws from their friend, Flora, came out in its gold-and-white splendour. This china was Flora's wedding china from the early 1900s. Only four place settings remain and hand-washing is imperative to keep the gold from washing away. To keep regal, I used silver plate chargers underneath the china to better match the tiered plate holder and silverware.
Menus for the tea party were composed and printed. Vellum paper with fancy script listed the menu items and will be further described in a future post.
Treat bags in blue satin and trimmed with silver sequins were attached with ribbon to the chair back for each guest. Inside the bag? Paper dolls of Wills and Kate with three gown alternatives, a box filled with embellishments for the dresses such as diamond stickers, silk flowers, and sparkly brads. Vellum paper tied with silver ribbon suggested to the guests that they dress the Royals any "Blimey" way they chose. Also inside: a silver notebook with a jeweled crown as the cover with a pen include to use for jotting down observations and memories of the special occasion.
Just before sitting down, the sun shown down on the tablescape and I had to take a picture to capture the Camelot shining moment.
Around the tiered plate stand I wrapped a mini bunting of the Union Jack flags. The top of the cake stand has a special crown given to me by a friend several years ago. Look closely and you can see a solar-powered Queen Elizabeth waving her hand to the guests (in a peach-coloured dress), beckoning them to come to the table and celebrate the newlyweds Catherine and William. *Yes, I now own my very own copycat engagement ring. Let me tell you the story about how I acquired this ring sometime!
COMING SOON: The menu items, the Ladies and what they wore and anything else that I have been, ah thinking about concerning the April 29th nuptials!