Dressed for Fall

The leaves are falling this time of year….right onto your cake! Dress your pumpkin cake up with some silk leaves for a fall look and a great dessert centerpiece for a dessert table.

I used this recipe but baked it in a Bundt pan.

 

Yesterday’s Fresh Baked Goods

The boys coined the term and appreciate the oxymoron-ness of “yesterday’s fresh-baked goods.” For a few years, the Friday-night destination has been Giant Food where the rack in the back holds the day-old bakery bargains. They used to venture on their bikes, but now that they are 16 and can drive, it’s the car.

No matter the mode of transportation, the destination and the goal remains the same. They come home with bags, grins, and a sugary score. Pour some milk and the feast begins!

Kelley Hospitality has never been only about the food; it’s about the experience. Food brings us together. As our son says, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” (With a caveat from him, “Mom, don’t write that down, I didn’t make up that saying, someone else did.”)

Bloom Where You’re Planted

Me and the girls were putting on a celebration dinner for a friend. I had eight sunflowers I hastily picked up at the grocery store. I had no idea what I would do with them beyond putting them in a vase.

I grabbed some scissors and went foraging through a strange yard and found fresh mint growing wildly in long stalks. (The owner of the home said, “I had no idea I had mint in my yard!”) I found a Magnolia tree and cut some grand, green shiny leaves.

Wrap a little burlap around the whole spontaneous display and we had a summer centerpiece.

Like I said, bloom where you’re planted. Have a wonderful summer day! Thank you for reading.

Serendipitous Hospitality

In this sequestered nook how sweet
     To sit upon my orchard seat
And birds and flowers once more to greet.

William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)

Every home has a story. I had this birdhouse stashed away for 15 years in the basement until one day my husband said, “What’s the story with this house?”

I offhandedly quipped, “It’s from an old boyfriend who made it for me. I don’t know what to do with it.”

My husband unabashedly replied, “Well let’s bring it out to the yard and see what we get!” (Now that’s hospitality!)

We placed it cavalierly on the deck rail and within a few days bluebirds came shopping for a home. They bought while we watched. But, it’s not a bluebird house!

Did you know that the male and female bluebird mate for life? Do you think it was coincidence that they found our house? It’s not an ordinary bluebird house high up in the tree – it’s more like a rambling Victorian with many rooms built for a large family. And, it sits in plain sight of where we can watch up close. They’ve never been timid or spooked. They are love on display. There are four blue eggs in the nest inside right now.


When you lay out the welcome mat, the most unlikely guests show up.

This is the fourth year for the house and its resident bluebirds. It was looking worn so I remodeled it last fall before putting it away for the winter. Same colors, just a few added wooden touches.

When the eggs hatch the parents will feverously go in and out to feed the babies insects, crickets, and larvae. After about 30 days the parents stop feeding the birds. Ready to fly, the baby birds leave the house to find their own food. We remove the roof and clean out the house and watch…a second family usually moves in before summer’s end.

Remodeling the birdhouse after three years of occupation.

Remodeling the birdhouse after three years of occupation.

See photos about “Bluebirds: From egg to empty nest.”

Local Color

The girls from Penn Farm in Westmoreland County, Virginia, always deliver. Not only do they have the freshest produce, they have smiles and recipes to share with some tidbits of information about what they are selling. They are my go-to stand at two of my favorite farmer’s markets, one in Great Falls and one in Reston, Virginia. Be sure to Like them on Facebook.

Buying local means fresh and friendly. What do my hospitable friends at Penn Farm have to offer?

Scroll down to enjoy the colors from today’s market!

Purple peppers are to be eaten fresh in salads.

Purple peppers are to be eaten fresh in salads.

Jessie and Sam from Penn Farm

Jessie and Sam from Penn Farm

Kelley Hospitality herself checks out the plums for plum tarts.

Kelley Hospitality herself checks out the plums for plum tarts.

Sisters, Sam and Tessa, from Penn Farms, know it all!

Sisters, Sam and Tessa, from Penn Farm, know it all!

Golden Sunshine (left) versus Cherokee Purple (right)

Golden Sunshine (left) versus Cherokee Purple (right)

 

Setting the Holiday Table — New Year’s Eve Sparkle

Set a festive table for New Year’s Eve by using what you have on hand. Look indoors and out for potential bling for your festive table.

Pick Your Colors and Theme

I have a gold tablecloth so decided on a red and gold color palette. I then found a tall candlestick in bronzy-brown and a brown table runner, so I decided to go with an earthy theme. Once I had these items in hand, my search was narrowed down.

Now, off to the outdoors where I cut some huge Magnolia tree leaves and Holly tree branches. I went indoors to the basement where I keep my floral picks and trims and found red, gold and sparkly things and fruit. I decided the setting needed more candle light, so I added various unmatched votive candle holders. (Always use unscented candles on the dinner table.) I whimsically placed it all together and a tablescape was born!

Whether it’s a buffet table, a formal table, or an open table for people to sit once they get their food, create a centerpiece from what you have on hand — including your imagination.

Happy 2014!

You’re a Good Egg, Ben

Ben spins his egg.

Ben spins his egg.

Ben was the first to color his egg. He used a new-fangled thingy that spun the egg around in the dye and the result was an olive-colored Easter egg. But Ben said he was sticking by it. The rest decided to skip the spinner and do them the old-fashioned way by dipping the egg in dye and waiting for it to become its Easter-pastel color.

Tonight, across the world, people everywhere are preparing for Easter — some fulfilling age-old traditions and some making new ones. I hope you enjoy the photos I’ve collected from those getting ready to proclaim Alleluia!

Kiera and Riley and chick cupcakes

Kiera and Riley  make chick cupcakes.

The traditional bunny cake.

The traditional bunny cake made by Ben, Kayley, Patrick and BilliJo.

Kayley with Ben and the olive egg.

Kayley with Ben and the olive egg.

Patrick and Kayley

Patrick and Kayley

Blessing of Easter food, Polish custom

Blessing of Easter food, Polish custom

The brown egg was dyed with onion skin.

The brown egg was dyed with onion skin.

Butter lamb

Butter lamb

homemade chocolate covered pretzels using Easter candy.

Homemade chocolate-covered pretzels with Easter candy.

 

Tim, Bunny and Bridget

Tim, Bunny and Bridget