New Year’s Day

We don’t have many plans for this New Year’s eve, I’ll probably make dinner and we’ll watch a movie, or two. I just wanted to send some New Year’s wishes your way! What will you be doing to ring in 2014? 

Image

I love creating hand lettered art. I created this graphic this year. All rights reserved by Elly Caruthers.

Standard

I still believe

This post doesn’t have anything to do with a table, or food but it does have a bit to do with inheriting. Both sides of my family tree are filled with creators carpenters, cooks, fine artists, crafters, milliners, writers, and musicians. I have been very blessed to always be surrounded by people who love me and have encouraged any of my creative endeavors. 

As I was decorating my Christmas mantle this year I got a little nostalgic. Christmas has a way of doing that. Growing up there really was a man, my grandfather, which had a round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He loved Christmas. His whole calendar revolved around it, actually. And even though he may have put on a Bah Hum Bug attitude at times, we all knew in his heart of hearts, Christmas was the most wonderful time of all.Image

Papa worked at Opryland Hotel in Nashville. He was one of the first employees and worked in the Maintenance Department. If you know anything about Opryland, apart from country music, it has one of the most magical Christmas decoration displays. Papa was fortunate to have a boss that allowed him to exercise his genius and creativity. I don’t know the details of how all this came about but I do know that I watched my grandfather in his small basement draw the plans and bring Nashville’s iconic poinsettia tree to life. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the grand entrance to the hotel and you will remember it’s impact long after you have left. I haven’t met a native Nashvillian my age or younger that doesn’t have a childhood picture that was taken in front of it.  Image

In addition to his creative spirit, he had as sneaky side as well. You know, the kind that hides a sleeve of cookies on top of the refrigerator so only he and his tall frame could grab one on the way through the kitchen. When these forces combined, well trouble could be found. At Christmas, it was in the form of a glue gun. I suppose he volunteered to do the wrapping when grandma’s arthritis became too much. Why bother with tape? When hot glue worked just as well. He didn’t stop there. Did you know that hot glue sticks come in Christmas colors and even with glitter? He could write your name with the glue- who needs gift tags? He could glue the box shut and who needs wrap when you can cover the box with hot glue and pennies? 

But my grandfather wasn’t just about decorations or organizing thousands strands of lights. He was a giver from the heart. Many needy children, probably more than we will ever know, had shoes to wear and bikes to ride at Christmas because he knew what Christmas was all about. And that’s why I always say I still believe in Santa. Because the spirit of giving lives in all of us. And though, I may have inherited my grandfather’s creative talent, I hope that his spirit of giving is something I will also be able to pass on to another generation. My grandfather passed away the day after Christmas two years ago just hours after passing peppermint candies out to his neighbors in the nursing home. I like to think he just had to squeeze another one in. After all, his calendar revolved around it. ImageImage

*The clock on the mantle was made by my talented father from walnut wood harvested from my grandfather’s land west of Nashville. 

*The drawing of Santa was done by me, and is available to be purchased here

 

Standard

Thanksgiving Breakfast

If I had my choice, I would celebrate every holiday with breakfast. This was the best Thanksgiving we have had in a long time. Everyone was healthy, and happy and for that we were all thankful.

Image

Breakfast was a great way to start one of my favorite days. Before the dressing, pecan pie and football, we paused and gave thanks for the year that had passed and asked for blessings on the year ahead.

Image

Image

Image

I pulled together things I already had around the house for my table setting. Some shiny pumpkins and deer horns littered the center of the table. I tried to keep the colors neutral with pops of metallic.

Image

 I got ahold of a sharpie and crafted a table runner for the day. I think it matches the monogramed paper mache pumpkin just fine. I love craft paper and hand lettering. It’s one of my favorite things.

 Image

What did we eat, you ask? Turkey Sausage of course! We also had biscuits, cranberry pecan crackers, pumpkin muffins, and yogurt in granola cups, rosemary pecans and hot apple cider.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving with people you love the most. May we give thanks all the year through, especially over breakfast.

Standard

Thanksgiving Brunch Planning

We are having Thanksgiving Brunch with my parents at our house this year before we travel to see the husband’s parents for Thanksgiving dinner. I’m in heaven because I love thanksgiving and breakfast foods. I was spooling through pinterest and cookbooks one morning and the husband looks over and says, “you live for this stuff, don’t you?” and I replied with “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we had turkey bacon? Get it?” He rolls his eyes, and I know that he lives for anything that includes biscuits.

 Here’s some ideas I’m tossing about. I’ll let you know which ones stick.

Image

Cranberry Pecan Pie Crust Leaves

Image

Rosemary breadsticks

Image

Gold Pumpkins and accents

Image

Craft Paper and hand lettering- two of my favorite things!

 

Standard

Pie Day

I love Thanksgiving. There is something about pulling out all the old recipes seems to bring the whole family together again. An apple pie from the past eaten by the newest members of our family really makes life full circle.

 Image

Image

This year I was in charge of pie. I decided on two classics apple and pumpkin.

Image

Image

 The worst part about pie is you can’t sample it before you take it to your event. Crossing my fingers!

Image

Image

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

Standard

Biscuits

It’s been three years. Besides being married for three years this week, it is also the third anniversary of one of the best wedding gifts I received. It was just a 3×5 card. Handwritten in simple blue pen is the recipe for “Justin’s Biscuits”. Mamas know what makes their babies happy. And good mamas pass that information on to their wives.

There are books, restaurants, documentaries and cooking shows dedicated to this love affair that Southerners and beyond have with this light, fluffy, buttery, palm size bread. As a little girl, it was one of the first words I learned to say and then later spell. My grandfather took great pride in teaching me the complex spelling of such a simple food.  In college, one student body president candidate even made the campaign promise of no more burned biscuits in the cafeteria.

There are only three ingredients in my recipe, flour, fat and dairy, so simple yet in some ways complex. If your ratios are off you could have a flat mess. Or if you mix too much you could have a hockey puck. Or if you leave them in too long, well you’ve gone and burned the biscuits. No one is happy if those things happen. But if the balance is perfect, you handle that dough with love and care as if it is your own child, and if you wait for the perfect time… well, magic can happen. Oh, the life lessons I have learned while making biscuits.

Hopefully one day, I’ll be able to pass this recipe along just like my mother-in-law did for me. But for now it’s permanent home is safely stuck on the side of the refrigerator. It’s served me well for three years so far, and we’ve got a lifetime to go.

Image

I made these last night for dinner.

Standard

Old Smoky Mountain Candy Kitchen

Fall is getting in full swing here in my little corner of Tennessee. The leaves are anticipating the change. It’s like that moment before the kiss.

It’s a tradition in many Tennessee families to take a little fall trip to Gatlinburg. My husband and I just got back from ours. We thought the trees would have been in full color there but I think they might be playing hard to get till the government opens the park back up for business.

We visited some our favorite places and found a couple of new ones. One of our favorite places to visit is the Old Smoky Candy Kitchen. I could watchthe taffy-pulling machine for hours. And if you add up all the time I’ve spent over the years, I’m sure it would be a significant amount. It’s hypnotizing, and the effect of the pulled sugar is similar to one of my annoying childhood habits of pulling my gum out of my mouth into a stringy mess. Kind of like that, but not.

Image

Image

Image

ImageImage

I hope you are enjoying fall wherever you are and indulging in all of your family’s traditions whatever they may be.

Standard

Happy Birthday!

I would like to take a moment to wish a special lady a Happy Birthday. I’ve shared many tables with her, and though we have lived in different states, or countries even, I count my times with this lady among some of my favorite.

I can remember the fall when she surprised my whole family and came in town for Thanksgiving dinner. I mean, no one knew she was coming and I think we had just said Amen when she walked through the door. Every Thanksgiving after that, we wondered if she would make a surprise appearance. Everyone looks forward to spending time with this treasure.

There was the summer that I was able to spend a couple of weeks with her in Texas. I helped out at the tearoom she owned. There were plenty of tables to share that week. She helped me master filling a water glass and setting a table just so. Hospitality has always been one of her gifts.

Her tearoom wasn’t the last tea we’ve shared. She threw a breathtaking bridal tea for all the ladies in my family on the back porch of the Belle Meade Mansion. Having all those women in one place was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Especially seeing all of us wearing fancy large hats. She has a way of making everything just a little bit more special.

This is only a sampling of my memories with my aunt. She is more than an aunt to me she has become a friend and encourager in my life. She is one of the most talented and giving people I know. I love you Aunt Polly! 

Image

 

Aunt Polly (center) posing with her brother and sister on the back porch of the Belle Meade.

Standard

Kid’s Cook-off

I’ve written on this blog about cooking as a child and my love of watching cooking shows on Saturday mornings. Tonight I watched my new favorite show that brings both of these themes together. Kids Cook-off is a new show on the Food Network. These kids are awesome and very knowledgeable. I’ve got a couple of favorite contenders already. I wish I could reach through the TV and pinch a cheek or two.

 Image

I would have been a perfect candidate for this show as a child. Just say’n

Standard

Chocolate Cake

My grandmother had just moved to the Woodbine community in Nashville. It was the early 1950s. A new baby girl, a 2-year-old boy, and her tall handsome husband were the new kids on a short friendly street. A red brick ranch house with a large yard- it was everything a home should be. There was even a cove carved into the hall wall for the telephone to sit. New to the area, far from her family and friends back home in her small town, my grandmother began her hunt for a local church family. They say in Nashville, that there is a church on every corner well, believe it, because there is! It happened that there was on the corner of her little street and so she decided to visit a lady’s class that was held on Wednesday mornings.

Image

My grandma loved the Bible, she was a scholar and teacher and I don’t know what her expectations where as she entered this new corner church for the first time, but as a new mom, she was probably just wanting some quiet time of study with some good Christian ladies.

After the study, one of the ladies stood to make an announcement. She would be taking some food to a family in the area and wondered if anyone would like to contribute. My grandmother raised her hand and volunteered a chocolate cake that she had just made. “The only thing is,” she said, “my husband has already eaten one slice.” The lady that was making the announcement made my grandmother feel at ease at once. She said, “that’s alright, we will slice it up and put it on a platter, no one will ever know the difference…”

My grandmother had found her new church family and a new friend for life that day. All over a piece of chocolate cake

Image

There are many “morals” to the story, but my take away is this: If you share your cake, you will make a friend.

 

Standard