Friday, May 30, 2014

My new Royal Crown Derby Donkey!

I received a wonderful Royal Crown Derby Donkey from my mother-in-law for my birthday!  How did she ever know that I would love such a thing?

Well, apparently my husband was so proud of my blogging that he shared it with his family... and they've been following my blog. *waves... hi!*

A while ago I wrote about Royal crown derby and my love for the donkey! And they hunted one down and bought it for me!  I couldn't decide where to put him, then I ended up thinking of a little story.   Now time for some fun.  I wrote a little story.  I used to write stories... then I stopped.  

my new royal crown derby paperweight, a donkey I've named Dominick! 
Storytelling time. "The Adventures of Dominick the Donkey" by me. 

Dominick the Donkey had just traveled from England hoping to meet some new friends.

"Hey, Chingedy ching, hee-haw, hee-haw, I'm Dominick the Donkey" he sang to the cats.

The sleeping cats were not impressed and continued to ignore him.

The cats' foul mood did not ruin Dominick's, as across the way he spotted lavender.  So he hopped on over to the lavender field and pranced around.


All of the prancing around made Dominick thirsty.  He spotted a watering hole in the distance.

The watering hole turned out to be... a tulipiere? Well, Dominick was a high-class donkey after all, he has hairs painted out of gold. He can drink out of tulipieres!
drinking from the tulipiere, this is one fancy donkey!
Now refreshed, he looked out the window and spotted the beautiful blooming pink rose.

He decided to stop and smell the roses before headed to his final resting spot.
smelling the gertrude jekyll rose. You should go to the nursery and do the same!!
Tuckered out from his adventure from England and then around his new home, he decided to take a rest on master's desk where he can watch all blogging activities.  He says, "now don't go spreading rumors about me."
don't go about spreading rumors 
THE END.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A French Pastry shop in LA

Bottega Louie

This is my review of Bottega Louie, a French pastry shop and cafe located in downtown L.A. here in Southern California!

French Patisserie
Now I LOVE French pastries.  We drove to Strasbourg, France from Germany (not too far away) just to eat a real French croissant and some real French pastries.

Frequently I am let down by the American attempts at French patisserie making.  This has led me to try to make my own.

At Bottega Louie, I was not let down!  

This is what greets you at the entrance:
Bottega Louie macarons

Bottega Louie macarons
bottega louie macarons
 Here is a look at some of their pretty cakes...



On one side of the wall, they have all of their gifts wrapped up in beautiful packaging.


It's like I stepped into a real French patisserie in Paris!


Who wouldn't love to receive one of these boxes as a gift?!


The architecture is French, naturally. And I love it.
French counter

A look inside their pastry case...
French pastries at Bottega Louie

Look at all of these mouth-watering pastries! How do you choose one? You can't!
French pastries

This is what I came home with... a box of macarons...

They wrap it up in pretty packaging which I think is a must for a macaron.  They technically aren't cookies, they are little pastries. Little pastries need cute little boxes!  One thing I love about the French is how much is put into the presentation of things. Here we just throw things into an ugly plain white bag.
macaron box

Here are the flavors I tried...
macarons

Raspberry macaron - the inside tasted like a raspberry gel. it was quite yummy.
Pistachio macaron - I think mine are better. shhh!
Chocolate orange- good.
Salted caramel - good. But I like my salted caramel ones better.
White chocolate cherry - HEAVENLY. Wow.

I like the Laduree recipe better for macarons as the Laduree recipe has a more almond taste.

Now, I will say I put the leftovers in the refrigerator and I think that Bottega Louie's macarons tasted better the NEXT day.  I think they were probably made fresh and macarons shouldn't be eaten for at least 24-48 hours after they were made.


Next up... the raspberry blueberry fruit tart.  It was GOOD. How could it not be?
fruit tart at bottega louie

Now onto my FAVORITE French dessert OF ALL TIME....

Le Frasier!!  If a pastry shop can make an excellent Frasier then they will always win me over.  I love Frasier cake so much, it was even my wedding cake (which is pictured on the header of my blog!)

Let's take a look, do you see the little fleck of gold leaf on the top? A little crumble of pistachio, strawberries, chantilly cream, honey, and a soft light cake.
Le Frasier at Bottega Louie
The verdict: MAGNIFIQUE! The Frasier was so good. I can rave about it for days. It was simply divine. You need to try one.  I wish I were eating one now.

A last look in the pastry case...
French pastries

Now, I did not have the opportunity to eat at the cafe. The line was too long.  Instead we got some sandwiches to go.  I had the caprese sandwich/baguette. It was really good.  Their bread was perfectly done.  I did not get to try a croissant.  I will need to go back and try one.  If they can make a good croissant, then I will be super impressed as I have yet to have one that rivals Paris.

My final review:

Macarons not my favorite but they were pretty good. Their other pastries were really really good.  Their sandwiches were really really good.  I highly recommend going to Bottega Louie when you are missing Paris.

I've linked up with:The Scoop! at Confessions of a Plate Addict/Stone Gable, Merry Mondays at my pinterventures,  Inspire Me Tuesday at a Stroll Thru Life, Do Tell Tuesday at a Vintage Zest,  You're Going to Love it Tuesday at Kathe with an E, Cottage Style Party at Lavender Garden Cottage  Wow us Wednesdays! at Savvy Southern Style, Oh the places I have been at the Tablescaper, Treasure Hunt Thursday at From My Front Porch To Yours, Feathered Nest Fridays at French Country Cottage, Seasonal Sundays at the Tablescaper, Sunday Best Showcase at Twigg Studios. Be sure to check out all of these fabulous blogging parties! A big thank you to all of the wonderful hosts!

Written at http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 26, 2014

Lemon Macarons Recipe!

Although I think "macaron citron" has a better ring to it!

Today I'm sharing with you the recipe for lemon macarons! They are GOOD.



Ok. First we start with the basic macaron recipe I use Laduree's recipe.

Materials needed:
  • a food scale (yes, you need this. I use this one)
  • a piping tip and piping bag (I like the ateco #806, I use these tips and piping bag
  • Food coloring (the gels or dry powder works best, not the liquid store stuff)
  • A macaron template (either make one or get one here or here. It makes piping easier)
  • food processor (for the cream filling, I use this one)

Laduree Macarons Recipe
275g ground almonds  
250g powdered sugar   
210g egg whites          
210g granulated sugar 

1.  Mix almond meal and the powdered sugar in a food processor. Be careful not to grind too long, otherwise it will form a paste.

2. Sift the almonds and powdered sugar. Set aside.

3. Weigh out granulated sugar.

4. Weigh the egg whites.  Beat them slowly on a low speed until foamy. SLOWLY add the granulated sugar to the egg whites as you beat.  Once all mixed, increase speed to medium and beat until a firm meringue forms.  You want a firm meringue with glossy peaks but not stiff peaks.  They should defy gravity and remain in the bowl if you turn it upside down.  If you tilt your bowl to the side and they are sliding out, keep beating.

5. Add the food coloring gel and mix.

6. Then fold in 1/3rd of the almond/sugar mixture into the meringue with a silicone spatula.  Once combined, add another third of the almond mixture. Add last bit.  This batter requires more deflation during this step since it creates such a poofy meringue.

7. Add the batter to a piping bag.  Pipe in rows using your template onto parchment paper.

8. Pick up the pan and beat until the counter.  The cookies need to rest on the counter between 30-60 minutes.  They are ready to go in the oven when they are dry to touch (the shell shouldn’t stick to your finger)

9.  Set the oven to 300F.

10. Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes, one sheet at a time. They are done when they look kind of matte and seem firm when you lightly tap on them.  You can always rescue a slightly overcooked one with the maturation process that comes later, but you cannot rescue an undercooked one!!   


11. Remove from paper once completely cool. If they stick to the paper, they aren’t cool yet. Or you undercooked them.
For the lemon cream filling (also Laduree's recipe, from the Sucre Book):

Ingredients for the Lemon Filling
  • 160g granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon, grated (approx. 5 grams)
  • 5g cornstarch (cornflour)
  • 3 eggs
  • 110mL lemon juice (use fresh lemon juice)
  • 235g butter, softened
Directions

1. Prepare the lemon cream one day in advance.

2. In a bowl, mix together the sugar and lemon zest. Then add the cornstarch.

3. Add the eggs one at a time and then the lemon juice.

4. Pour this mixture into a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring with a spatula until it simmers, allowing the cream to thicken.

5. Remove from heat.

6. Allow the cream to cool slightly for approx. 10 minutes so that is hot but not scalding (approx. 140 degrees Fahrenheit).

7. Add the softened butter.

8. In a blender or food processor, blend the butter and cream together until mixed.

9. Keep in airtight container for minimum of 12 hours so that the cream may become firm.

10. Add to the macarons. Let macarons sit in the fridge for at least 1 day until serving. It will taste better this way, I promise!!

the lemon cream filling

piped lemon shells
The finished product:


For my favorite product recommendations for making such delicate cookies, check out my amazon store

I've linked up with:The Scoop! at Confessions of a Plate Addict/Stone Gable, Metamorphosis Monday's at Between Naps on the Porch, Inspire Me Tuesday at a Stroll Thru Life, Do Tell Tuesday at a Vintage Zest,  You're Going to Love it Tuesday at Kathe with an E, Cottage Style Party at Lavender Garden Cottage  Wow us Wednesdays! at Savvy Southern Style, What's it Wednesdays at Ivy & Elephants, Centerpiece Wednesdays at The Style Sisters Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch, Oh the places I have been at the Tablescaper, Treasure Hunt Thursday at From My Front Porch To Yours, Feathered Nest Fridays at French Country Cottage, Seasonal Sundays at the Tablescaper, Sunday Best Showcase at Twigg Studios. And Tickle my Tastebuds Tuesdays Be sure to check out all of these fabulous blogging parties! A big thank you to all of the wonderful hosts!

Written by  http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com
this post may contain affiliate links

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Last Minute Memorial Day Dessert

Need a dessert to bring to a BBQ?  I've got you covered. It's super easy, fast, and looks great!


Ingredients:

  • Red fruit. I used strawberries, but raspberries, cherries, or watermelon are a perfect alternative.
  • Something white: golden raspberries, pineapple, whipped cream, marshmallows, or white covered pretzels or raisins.
  • Blue fruit: blueberries or blackberries!
Directions: (only one!)
1. Arrange on a plate in the shape of the flag. This is perfect as a dessert OR as a side dish.

For a dessert, serve with ice cream or whipped cream!  Total prep time: 3 minutes.

Written at: http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com/

EDIT: This dessert was featured at:


I've linked up with:The Scoop! at Confessions of a Plate Addict/Stone Gable, Merry Mondays at my pinterventures, Inspire Me Tuesday at a Stroll Thru Life, Do Tell Tuesday at a Vintage Zest,  You're Going to Love it Tuesday at Kathe with an E, Cottage Style Party at Lavender Garden Cottage  Wow us Wednesdays! at Savvy Southern Style, What's it Wednesdays at Ivy & Elephants, Centerpiece Wednesdays at The Style Sisters Treasure Hunt Thursday at From My Front Porch To Yours, Feathered Nest Fridays at French Country Cottage, Sunday Best Showcase at Twigg Studios.  And Tickle my Tastebuds Tuesday Be sure to check out all of these fabulous blogging parties! A big thank you to all of the wonderful hosts!



Friday, May 23, 2014

Sterling Silver Flatware Guide... Part 2

A few more hints about buying silver...

What affects the price of the piece I'm buying?
-Pattern: Certain patterns are worth more than others, despite the weight in Troy ounces being the same.
-Piece: Forks are worth more than teaspoons. Knives are usually worth less, and it's because most are hollow.
-Sets: Sets go for more.
-Monograms: These go for less.
-Condition: this is obvious. Things in good condition go for more.

Other tips:

  • be wary of buying tarnished silver as it can hide obvious damage.
  • avoid pieces with a white appearance. It was most likely over cleaned with harsh chemicals.
  • Areas most susceptible to damage are rims and joints with handles, spouts, and feet.
  • When buying a set, look out for "marriages".  This is when two or more pieces are combined to make a better set.  They can be really hard to catch sometimes, so be careful!
  • Be wary of modified items: sometimes spoons are cut to resemble a sugar spoon, or may have been pierced to look like a sifter.
  • The best way to care for silver is to use it.  Gentle hand wash it. 
  • Remember silver is a good conductor, so placing a silver serving spoon in a bowl of hot soup for a few minutes can make the spoon very hot. You have been warned.
  • Assume that if you are looking at vintage or antique silver and it does not have a sterling mark, it is silver plate.
  • Buy from reputable dealers to avoid forgery and fakes.  For deals, search eBay but be careful who you buy from.  


My #1 tip is: Buy something you love.  If you buy something that was a good bargain but you don't really love it, you aren't going to use it. So it's just going to sit in the drawer.  So you shouldn't have bought it in the first place.

My Favorite Sterling Silver Patterns!
I have been searching all over the internet trying to find patterns that I really like.  There are a ton of retired patterns that you are still able to purchase through eBay and other antique dealers.  I am sure there are more that will catch my eye, but I've narrowed the list down (but the list is still long).

If you missed the first part of my guide about sterling silver flatware (which contains info about what sterling silver is, how to care for it, etc...) click here.

Here we go! (In order of... most simple to most ornate)

"Malmaison" by Christofle. source: Christofle website

"Marly" by Christofle source: Christofle website
This happens to be my stainless pattern, so I wouldn't want the same in sterling... but I still like it!
Couzon "Consul"  source: bloomingdale's
"Williamsburg Shell" by Kirk Steiff
"Empire" by Ercuis
"Empire" by Gebrueder Reiner. source: arts table
"Ludwig XVI" by Koch and Bergfeld source: art's table 
"Strassburger Empire" by Wilkens source: arts table

"Marie Antoinette" by Alvin source: antiquecupboard.com
"Empire" by Buccelati source: antiquecupboard.com
"Moilere Mascaron"by Emile Puiforcat source: puiforcat website
"Elysees by Puiforcat" source: puiforcat website
Audubon by Tiffany
"Royal" by Puiforcat source: puiforcat website
"Mascarons" by Puiforcat sourcE: rubylane.com
"Renaissance" by Tiffany  source: spencermarks.com
"Paris" by Gorham source: replacements ltd.
"Versailles" by Gorham source: rubylane

You may have noticed that I'm a little bit schizophrenic on my patterns.  They are either pretty simple or over-the-top.

Here's why:  I think there's a lot of elegance with the more simple patterns, however, if you're going to eat with sterling silver, which I feel is a bit over-the-top anyway, then maybe you should be eating with an over-the-top fork!

What do you think? What one is your favorite?  Or is your favorite not listed?

I think my favorite is the Tiffany "Renaissance" pattern. A girl can dream!

I'm providing a link to a website that has a really nice overview of many patterns.  Check it out to see a whole bunch of patterns quickly!

Be Sure to check out part 1 of my Sterling Silver Guide!

Note: I am not a silver expert. I am just someone who is writing about silver for a fun hobby. You need to perform your own research before you go about buying silver.

I've linked up with:The Scoop! at Confessions of a Plate Addict/Stone Gable, Inspire Me Tuesday at a Stroll Thru Life, Do Tell Tuesday at a Vintage Zest,  You're Going to Love it Tuesday at Kathe with an E,Wow us Wednesdays! at Savvy Southern Style, What's it Wednesdays at Ivy & Elephants,  Treasure Hunt Thursday at From My Front Porch To Yours, Feathered Nest Fridays at French Country Cottage, Sunday Best Showcase at Twigg Studios. Be sure to check out all of these fabulous blogging parties! A big thank you to all of the wonderful hosts!

Written  at http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kitchen Carts

I'm on the hunt for a kitchen cart.  I need it to be able to go from the kitchen to the BBQ outside.  It should have at least two shelves so I can put dishes/silverware on one shelf, then another shelf for food.  It needs to have four wheels.  Two wheels isn't the easiest thing to maneuver outside.

This is what I've found:
gold bar/kitchen cart, Cost Plus, $150



gold bar cart, Ballard Designs, $300


FLYTTA Kitchen cart IKEA Gives you extra storage, utility and work space. Lockable casters for high stability.
Flytta kitchen cart, $179 ikea
Galvanized Metal Rolling Wagon Party Bucket
Galvanized metal rolling wagon party bucket, $199, pottery barn
Jill Bar Cart
Jill Bar Cart, $349, Ballard Designs

GRUNDTAL Kitchen cart IKEA Gives you extra storage, utility and work space.
Grundtal kitchen cart, $149,  ikea



 wheeled wagon that is collapsible, $94, walmart

Alera 3-Tier Wire Rolling Cart Black Anthracite
wheeled cart, $52, Costco


Vitale Bar Cart, Macy's, POPULAR Seller!

Update: We actually ended up getting this cart here for $99.  We've had it for a few years and it has been working pretty well for indoor/outdoor function.
the cart we chose, get it here
The only thing that I wish is that the bottom shelf had some little wall around it because as you go over bumpy surfaces outside anything on the bottom shelf can rattle out and fall onto to the ground. 

We chose one with a cutting board so we had a prep area outside.  Which one would YOU choose?


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