Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Tea Cup and Saucer

I'm so excited... there are only nine days left until Christmas Day! I have two more people to buy gifts for and then I'm done. How are you doing on your shopping?
 
 
Today I'm sharing my second Christmas tea cup and saucer set. I shared the first one two weeks ago. This one is also by Royal Albert. It's part of their "Flower of the Month" series. It's called "Holly" and comes in at #12 in the series.

 

The front and back of the cup feature the same design and the gold trim is still in excellent condition after all these years. The holly berries and leaves are handpainted. The cool thing about this design is that the red berries are raised, so you feel them when touching the china.
 


Here comes Santa Claus,
Here come Santa Claus,
Right down Santa Claus lane.
 
I love collecting Santas, especially the ones with an old-fashioned look to them. I found this guy at Home Goods a few years ago.


And I made some delicious homemade, chocolate chip cookies! I never shape the cookie balls before baking. I just plop the dough onto the baking sheet so that I can have the homemade look to my cookies. Here's my recipe for my chocolate chip cookies. The recipe makes about three to four dozen, depending on how big/small you want your cookies to be.



 
 
I'm linking up to:
Tea Cup Tuesday at Martha's Favorites
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
 
Thanks for stopping by today,

Michelle 
 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Royal Albert Christmas Tea Cup

December, at last! Thanksgiving to New Year's Day is my favorite time of the year and Christmas is my favorite holiday, hands down. I love all the food, the extra family time, getting the house and the yard decorated, listening to all the great Christmas songs out there and celebrating the birth of Jesus. 
 

This week I'm sharing a lovely Royal Albert tea cup and saucer set. I found this set at a yard sale for only $1.00! I couldn't believe it. I'm never lucky like that with tea cups, so I immediately snatched it right up.


The name of this pattern is South Pacific. I'm not sure why a Poinsettia pattern is called South Pacific, so I decided to google the flower to see if that's where it's from. I discovered that the Poinsettia is native to Mexico and was once used by the Aztecs to make colored dye. It was brought to the United States by Joel Roberts Poinsett and named after him.


I'm crazy for handles and I love this tea cup's handle with its gold design. Below's a picture of the interior of the cup. I love when china makers add floral designs inside the cups. The coloring on this set is really vivid in person, especially the red.


 A little angel that I just love!


This adorable couple that we all know as Mr. and Mrs. Claus was a ceramic project that my mom did about 10-15 years ago.


The marking on the bottom of the saucer reads: Royal Albert, Bone China, England, South Pacific.

 
 
I'd never heard the story of why the poinsettia's so closely associated with Christmas and came across this legend of the flower, from WhyChristmas:
 
"There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up. 'Pepita', he said "I'm sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus Happy."

Pepita didn't know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene.

Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the 'Flores de Noche Buena', or 'Flowers of the Holy Night'.

The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity."
 

I'm linking up to:
Tea Cup Tuesday at Martha's Favorites 
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Tuesday Cuppa Tea

Thanks for stopping by today,
Michelle

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Disappeared by Kristina Ohlsson

I always love when I find a book that's so good, I don't want to stop reading. Kristina Ohlsson has written such a book in The Disappeared.  A college student named Rebecca goes missing on her way to a party and now, two years later, her body's been found buried and dismembered in the woods. The police keep digging and discover that Rebecca isn't the only body in the grave.


There's a quite a few suspects in the murder of Rebecca that the police need to narrow down. And what about that second body in the grave? Forensics date this body's death at least thirty years ago. Is this the work of a serial killer? Are there more bodies buried here? As the police work on the suspect list, several of the characters' lives become intertwined with each other in unsuspecting ways.

Our heroine is Fredrika Bergman, an investigative analyst, who's just returned from maternity leave early because her live-in boyfriend's been suspended from his job as a college professor. As Fredrika delves into Rebecca's past, she discovers that at the time of her disappearance, Rebecca had been doing research for her thesis paper on a children's writer named Thea Aldrin. Aldrin had spent time in prison for murder and was suspected in the disappearance of her own son. Now out of prison and residing in an assisted-living complex, the police can't question her as she's chosen to be mute and refuses to speak.

There are two male protagonists. The first is Fredrika's boss, Alex Recht; recently widowed and still mourning the loss of his wife. Alex originally worked Rebecca's missing person case and still keeps in touch with the young woman's mother. Then there's Peder Rydh, a colleague of Fredrika's and on the investigative team searching for Rebecca's murderer.

Ohlsson has skillfully woven together a complex tale of suspense. There are so many layers created by the author that the reader finds herself swept up into the lives of all the characters; each layer providing more detail to the story.

I really enjoyed reading The Disappeared. It's one of the best murder mysteries I've read in awhile. Not only that, but it's part of a series. So far, this is the only one I've read (and it works out fine as a stand-alone book), but I'm excited to go back and read the other ones by Ohlsson.

I'm linking up to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books.

Thanks for stopping by today,
Michelle



Friday, November 28, 2014

Mini Spinach Bread Bowls

These little Spinach Bread Bowls are super easy to make and great for the holidays as an appetizer. I've made these several times now, not just for the holidays, but for events like birthday parties and random get-togethers with friends and family.
 
  
 Ingredients
  • Bread dough to fit a 12 count muffin pan or 1 roll of refrigerated french bread loaf, Pillsbury's Simply Perfect
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, garden vegetable flavor
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/8 table salt
  • 1/8 black pepper
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Flour for the refrigerated bread loaf
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter/grease or use a spray like Pam on the muffin pan.
  3. Remove bread from packaging and slice into 12 equal parts (flour the cutting board and knife). Press each slice flat, then press into the bottom and sides of each muffin space.
  4. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add spinach and cook until wilted, 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic; cook about one more minute.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, sour cream, cooked spinach, salts and pepper until well blended.
  6. Scoop mixture into the center of each bread bowl.
  7. Top with the mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake 15-17 minutes until the cheese is melted and browning occurs at the edges.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool about 3-5 minutes before removing from the muffin pan.
  10. Serve warm.
Tips
  • Prepare the spinach in advance. Wash and dry the spinach the day before. I used fresh spinach for this recipe and it took me about an hour to finely chop 2 cups. In my defense, I was watching TV while chopping!
  • If you're not a fan of the garden vegetable cream cheese, then use regular cream cheese.
  • If you want to save on calories, then substitute the regular sour cream, mozzarella cheese and cream cheese for their reduced fat or fat-free versions.
  • Serve the mini spinach bread bowls warm. 

This recipe's my modified version of one found at The Picky Palate, where the original version can still be viewed.

Thanks for stopping by,
Michelle

I'm linking up to Think Pink Sunday.


Friday, August 1, 2014

That Old Black Magic

I finished reading That Old Black Magic by Mary Jane Clark yesterday. This is the first book by Clark that I've read. That Old Black Magic is part of a murder mystery series with Piper Donovan, a cake decorator and aspiring actress, as the heroine.

Opening lines: Piper was sipping a cocktail, but she couldn't taste it. Her sights were set on the tattered cloth doll. It was dancing frantically, tangled in yellow police tape. The more the doll jerked, the more snarled up it became until finally, the strangled doll collapsed motionless on the floor.

 
Piper Donovan is twenty-seven and works at her parents' bakery in New Jersey. Piper travels down to New Orleans right before St Patrick's Day as she's won a contest to "apprentice," for a couple of weeks at Boulangerie Bertrand, a famous bakery located on Royal Street, in the French Quarter. After Piper's arrival, a local merchant is found murdered, strangled and whipped, with signs pointing to voodoo. A local radio host dubs the killer as the Hoodoo Killer. In the midst of all this, Piper gets a two day acting job, which leads to flashbacks of an incident the month before (from the previous book). The Hoodoo Killer doesn't stop at one death, but continues on with more deaths related to voodoo.

I enjoyed reading That Old Black Magic. Though this book is part of a series, it stands alone as a read. It's well written, the plot makes sense, but most of the characters reach only two-dimensional status, which is of course, better than one-dimensional.

The one thing I liked the most about the book is how there are no swear words. It's actually refreshing to read something where the author doesn't constantly take GOD's name in vain, which is the one thing I find the most offensive when reading books.

My only nits is that there were a few pages that the book didn't need. One example: Piper's boyfriend thinks she had PTSD. So he calls a friend and then there's a discussion on PTSD. This is completely unneccesary to the story.

Be prepared! Food is discussed throughout the book, especially bakery items. I craved sweets like there was no tomorrow while reading That Old Black Magic.

I'm linking up to:
Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, July 25, 2014

The Necromancer's House

This week I read The Necromancer's House by Christopher Buehlman. I picked this book up because of the title. I love books about the supernatural and after reading the description inside the jacket, I was hooked.

From the jacket: Andrew Ranulf Blankenship is a handsome, stylish nonconformist with wry wit, a classic Mustang and a massive library. He is also a recovering alcoholic and a practicing warlock, able to speak with the dead through film.


Opening lines from the Prologue: The old man walks from the cabin to the porch behind, palming his whiskey glass from the bottom and swirling the ice in it.

Our protagonist is Andrew Blankenship, a male witch who prefers the term magus to witch. He lives in Dog Neck Harbor in a house hidden by magic from most people. The house is also protected with charms, booby traps, against people who would seek to harm him. We don't find out Andrew's full story and history at once. It's fed to us throughout the novel like special treats. Eventually, we find out why his house is hidden and filled with traps.

Andrew is a recovering alcoholic and regularly attends AA meetings. Andrew's friend Anneke also attends AA meetings. She is luminous, a term used to describe those who have magic within them. Andrew is trying to teach her how to tap into her luminosity. Things start to go bad for Andrew when his rusalka (a mermaid) drowns one of his neighbors, an old Russian man, with connections to the past Andrew doesn't want to remember, (hint: Baba Yaga is involved).

The Necromancer's House is a well-written novel with fully fleshed-out characters. Buehlman has even brought to life minor characters that another author would have left one-dimensional. His writing style leans toward the flowery, which isn't a real criticism, though I did have to re-read a few sentences a second time to pick up the meaning. All-in-all, an excellent read.

I'm linking up to:
Literary Friday at Art @ Home
Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader


Thanks so much for your visit!
~Michelle






Friday, July 18, 2014

Homicide in Hardcover

I just finished reading Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle with the tagline of A Bibliophile Mystery.

Opening lines: My teacher always told me that in order to save a patient you'd have to kill him first. Not the most child-friendly way of explaining his theory of book restoration to his eight year old apprentice, but it worked. I grew up determined to save them all.

One of the reasons I was attracted to this book was the fact that the heroine is a rare book expert, who restores and conserves old books; two other reasons are: I love murder mysteries and it's set in San Francisco.



Brooklyn Wainwright is the main character who finds Abraham, "her mentor lying in a pool of his own blood." With his last breath, he whispers "Remember the devil" and gives her Goethe's Faust. Abraham had been working on The Winslow Collection of books for an upcoming exhibit. One of the books in the collection is Goethe's Faust, which, legend has it, is cursed. All who've owned the book have died. Brooklyn is asked to take over the restoration project and finish Abraham's work with the Faust.

We are introduced to several characters who may or may not have a motive for killing Abraham including: Minka, Brooklyn's nemesis from college; the Winslows; Abraham's rival Enrico; and Brooklyn's own mother. Then there's the British Derek Stone, a former military operative, who now runs his own security company and is in charge of The Winslow Collection. Derek also gets to have a romantic moment or two with Brooklyn.

My only nit with this book is that there's not a lot of actual mystery-solving or investigating happening with the main characters. It's focus is more on Brooklyn's life (who grew up on a commune), her family, (who still live on the commune) and people trying to harm or kill Brooklyn.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Homicide in Hardcover. The book is a fun read and the first in a series of books. It's well-written with definitive characters and plot. I'll definitely be reading others in the series.

I'm linking up to the following blogs:
 Literary Friday at Art @ Home
 Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader
Saturday Review at Semicolon

Thanks so much for stopping by :)