Monday, March 25, 2013

Downton Abbey Dinner Party

For all of you Downton Abbey fans, 
here's something fun to do in the endlessly long off season-

A Downton Abbey Dinner Party!

Some very fun friends of ours came up with the idea
and we all jumped at the chance to attend.

We brainstormed about the party...

There would be Upstairs Characters and downstairs characters.
The downstairs characters would cook and serve the dinner
and the Upstairs Characters would dine in splendor and pay for it!

I put the fix in to be an Upstairs Character right away...
We drew names to play the characters and some side deals may have taken place.

I managed to wangle a seat at the Table as the Dowager!!!!  Score!!!
I just knew I could sit around, making cutting remarks and being waited on like royalty.
I excel at that, really.

Alas, Mr. Grand drew a downstairs character, Carson, the Butler.
And because he was travelling, he managed to fly into town at 4:00 pm the day of the party.
Which meant that even though I was an aristocratic Upstairs Character, 
I would be forced to prepare his assignment, Deviled Eggs.
So unfair.  But I prevailed and managed to both boil eggs and spray paint my hair silver 
and Mr. Grand managed to throw an awesome costume together...  You'll see.

It was a wonderful evening, 
and our hosts, Mr. Matthew Crowley and Mrs. Patmore

deserve major props for both the meticulous planning and the flawless execution.

The Menu:
Specialty Beverage: French 75's
Deviled Eggs
Nottingham Broccoli Soup
Daisy's Rolls and Irish Butter
(this is my Blog so I can embellish here)
Wines from the New World (Blustone Vineyards)

The French 75's were dangerously delicious!

Named after a World War I French gun with "a vicious rate of fire",
they were quite tasty.
Ours were made with brandy instead of gin
and very elaborately presented by Thomas (Barrow) 
who sported a rainbow bow tie, because, you know....
he's that Thomas...

while Mrs. Hughes displayed a rare smile...

Fortunately, Dr. Clarkson was able to join us for the evening, 
in case anyone developed the "Vapors".

He's seen here with Lord Robert Crowley, The Earl of Grantham,
who just popped in from a day of hunting 
while O'Brian eyes them maliciously and tries to sneak off with a drink...

The Earl's Knickers.

Tom Branson, the ex-chauffeur, brought this fabulous pocket watch
a family heirloom that dates back to the early 1900's.

Lady Cora, the lovely Countess of Grantham, in her heirloom jewels
being attended to by Mr. Carson.

On to The Dinner.

Carson kept an eye on everything
(while managing to make that face all evening long)

and served a wicked Deviled Egg...

Again, it's my Blog
and if I seem partial to Carson, it's because I am,
and so there may be a few more pictures of him than anyone else...

Lady Edith looking a bit aghast about something.

The Nottingham Soup was simply scrumptious.
(Recipe at the end of this post, courtesy of O'Brian)

Mr. Bates serving Daisy's Rolls with such panache 
to Isobel Crowley and Lady Mary

It should be noted that Lady Mary made her dress 
from the most elegant window treatments, 
ala Scarlett O'Hara.

Lady Edith and Isobel share a moment.

Carson serves Cora
with aplomb.

And then serves Tom Branson, perhaps not to his satisfaction...
Uppity chauffeur!

As usual, the help simply cannot confine themselves to their proper places.

That's O'Brian, perpetually smirking, next to Mrs. Patmore.

The Dowager did develop a bit of the "vapors"
and was promptly attended to by Dr. Clarkson.

This picture is very small for a reason.

Mr. Bates carries the torte...
The Chocolate Irish Whiskey Cake.

So Delicious.

After Dinner, we "went through" to the Parlor, 
where we there was major merriment 
with a musical number from Season Two-
"If I Was the Only Girl in the World".
Remember when Mary sang that song as Matthew walked into the room?

That's my Mom's Candelabra on the piano.  
She would be so pleased!

We played Parlor games 
including Reverse Charades, 
where the team stands up and acts out the idea together 

and one member does all the guessing-
Carson in this case, while Mrs. Hughes holds the card.

Hilariously fun.

Mrs. Patmore couldn't resist a peek

while Thomas and O'Brian are off sneaking a smoke 
and doubtlessly planning something evil to do with bars of soap.

Here's the Upstairs Cast

And the Downstairs Crew

A most Enchanted Evening!

Thank you again to our most generous hosts 
and to the entire cast for all of their delightful efforts 
(and some of their photographs).

Recipes on the menu above have links where highlighted.

This one is from O'Brian's kitchen...

Nottingham Soup Recipe

2T butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup white wine

Melt butter in kettle.  Add onion, garlic, bay leaf and salt.
Saute over medium heat until onion is translucent.
Add white wine and cook for one minute more.

1 medium bell pepper, diced
4 cups broccoli, chopped, including stems
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

Add above ingredients to onion mixture,
cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until broccoli is very tender.

1/4 tsp ground allspice
pepper to taste
a dash of thyme
a few fresh basil or parsley leaves

Remove the bay leaf.  Add the spices and puree the soup in a food processor or blender.

You may prepare in advance up to this point.  Cover and refrigerate for up to two days.

1/2 to 1 cup sour cream
Heat soup and add sour cream dollops and herb garnishes right before serving.

Linking to:
 Tabletop Tuesday at A Stroll Through Life
Metamorphosis Monday at A Stroll Through Life
The Scoop at Cedar Hill Ranch
Knick of Time Tuesday Link Party
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Be Inspired Link Party at Elizabeth and Co.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lily of the Valley Soap Dispenser

Here's a super duper, easy peasy, little bitty Mod Podge project.
And it uses my favorite flower, Lily of the Valley.

Let's think spring!

I have been forever looking for the right soap dispenser for our Master Bathroom. 
I know, First World Problem.... 
I have gone through several soap dispensers there over the years, 
always fancy ceramic numbers that inevitably chip or break.
I am hoping this one works better.

The hardest part of this project is finding the right soap dispenser to start with.
They need to be a simple shape.
I saw these at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $1.00 each!

I bought a few, thinking they were reasonably pretty 
and the labels peeled right off, with no trouble at all.

Then I went to my stash of Napkins That Must Never Be Used because they are too pretty
and selected this treasured Lily of the Valley napkin:

I peeled the napkin layers apart and cut out the flower motif with tiny scissors.
I left a tiny border all around it.
Then I decoupaged the flower cutout onto the dispenser
using a matte finish Mod Podge.
Then I covered the entire bottle with Mod Podge, using three coats.

Here's a close up of the decoupage.  
I like the matte finish because it softens the shiny plastic look.

It looks really pretty on the counter.

And it only cost a dollar...
(The soap smells nice, but it absolutely refuses to lather...
What do you expect, for a dollar?)

Before and after:

So soft and springy!

Linking to:
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Be Inspired at Common Ground
The 6 days of Springsperation Linky Party at Jennifer Rizzo
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Fabulously Creative Friday at Jennifer Rizzo
Make the Scene Monday at Alderberry Hill
Monday Funday at Uncommon Designs
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday at Coastal Charm
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Winter Blues Wednesday at DIYbyDesign
Treasure Hunt Thursday at From My Front Porch to Yours
Wildly Original  Link Party at I Gotta Create
Tutorials, Tips and Tidbits at Stone Gable
Hooking Up with House of Hepworths
Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Creek Cottage
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

House of Cards

If you are like me, in mourning for Downton Abbey
and are looking for something to fill that giant hole,
then Whoa,
have I ever got a show for you.....
It's called House of Cards, and it's available on Netflix.
And it's outstanding.

The series creators gambled on a new idea
and released the entire series, all 13 episodes, all at once
and only on Netflix.
We were hooked from the very first scene.
We have two episodes left to watch
And we have made a date to see them, to savor them.

Our son told us about the series.
He is our go-to technology guy
and he thought we would like this.
Boy, was he ever right.

Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright star in this political drama
about the workings of Washington.
Google it to read more about it or read the outstanding reviews on IMDB.
Then figure out how to watch it.
We have Netflix on our new, smart TV.
You can watch it that way
or the old fashioned way (ha-ha) by ordering the series from Netflix by mail.

Either way, just do it.
I'm pretty sure you'll thank me.

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