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

Monday, May 26, 2014

Lemon Macarons Recipe!

Although I think "macaron citron" has a better ring to it!
This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.
Today I'm sharing with you the recipe for lemon macarons! They are GOOD.



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?


You can also follow me by clicking on these: bloglovin, instagramtumblrtwitterpinterest, and google plus

Monday, May 19, 2014

Salted Caramel Macarons

Fleur de Sel Macarons (aka Salted Caramel Macarons)

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sterling Silver Flatware guide... Part 1

As a collector of antiques, I have long been interested in sterling silver.  However, I know NOTHING about it.  I always eye the beautiful cases of sterling flatware, but don't know where to begin nor do I even know what pattern I like!


Sterling Silver Flatware Guide

First things first, what is "sterling silver"?
In the United States, it only applies to an item which contains a minimum of 925 parts of silver out of 1000 parts.  The remaining 75 parts are an alloy of nickel, copper, or other metals.   Therefore, you get the mark of 0.925.  (Silver is too soft to be at 100% and therefore must have some other metal added to it).   No silver less than 0.925 can be labeled sterling, solid silver, sterling silver, silver or ster. If you are buying it from someone and they label it as Sterling and is in fact NOT, they are subject to federal fines from the National Gold and Silver Stamping Act.

The word "Sterling" first appears on American silver circa 1800.  Most silver items made through 1860 were actually 0.900 silver.  Silver flatware made before 1968 in the US will vary with the amount of silver included.  Sets made after 1968 will have the word "sterling", "925-1000" or ".925" on it.

Note: all of these standards are referring to US made sterling.  Different countries have different standards.

What is silver plate?
It contains alloys and is NOT sterling silver.  I like to think of it as a microscopic level of silver over regular old stainless steel flatware pretending to be sterling.  Don't buy this, I say go big or go home.

Settings and Pieces
Most are available in 5 piece settings.
5 piece: Salad fork, soup spoon, dinner fork, dinner knife, teaspoon.

What are the standard serving pieces?
A table serving spoon, pierced table spoon, cold meat fork, sugar spoon, master butter knife, and pie server.

There are MANY other types of serving pieces available.  For example, I own an asparagus server! haha!

How many place settings should I buy?
Buy at LEAST 8 full settings.  However, most purchase more.

Should I get my set monogrammed?
NO.  It will reduce the value of your sterling by 25-35%. No joke. This is also on the flipside, if you are buying vintage or antique sterling silver, if it has monogramming on it, it should be 25-35% cheaper than a pattern without a monogram.

Sterling flatware care:
You may put it in the dishwasher BUT handwashing is preferred.  Do not wash with stainless pieces as a reaction can occur and leave little black dots on it.
***Be careful if you do choose to use the dishwasher.  Most sterling silver knife handles are actually hollow and filled with plaster.  Putting the knives into the dishwasher can cause the plaster to melt and permanently damage the knife.  When you hand wash your knives, do not submerge them completely. Wash each individually under running water.  If you submerge them completely in water, the water can seep into the hollow part of the knife and also cause permanent damage to the knife.  We don't want that!

To keep the silver shiny, you will need to polish it.  Store in protective felt cases. Keep away from direct light, as it will cause the silver to tarnish.  Do not store on wood directly as the wood contains acids that can ruin the silver.

How much is silver worth?
Silver is sold in troy ounces (31.10grams).  The ounce we think of is actually "ounce avoirduopois" (29.35grams).  If you are weighing silver at home, you will be weighing it in "ounce avoirdupois" and will need to convert it.  US prices in 2014 have been around $19.8 per troy ounce.

OK, I'm ready, I want to buy some sterling silver! What pattern?!
Well, I've included pictures of the top 10-20 patterns sold in the United States.  I have seen quite a few of these at estate sales and antique shows, but had no idea what the names were!
"Strasbourg" 
"Rose Point"
"Repouse"
"Fairfax"
"Francis I" 
"Grande Baroque"
"Old Master"
"Prelude"
"Buttercup"
"Chantilly" by Gorham
Here is also another website's pictures of their top selling sterling silver patterns:

Alright!  Stay tuned as next week as I'll be sharing my favorite sterling silver patterns with you all!

Sources
1. Sterling Silver what it is and is not. 
2. Sterling Silver info
3. Awesome sterling silver website
4. Best Flatware patterns (source of all of the pictures except the bottom one)
5. The Silverqueen

Note: I am not a silver expert. I am just someone who is writing about silver for fun. 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, 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. 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