Tag Archive: Lifestyle

Kitchen Tools: Dutch Oven

When it comes to slow cooking or low heat cooking in the oven, you just can’t beat the Dutch Oven.  If you are a fan of Country French cooking, you should consider getting one.

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I have made Beef Bourguignon in various types of cookware–covered casserole dish in the oven, crock pot, and stew pot on the range top–but nothing compares to using a Dutch Oven which allows braising and simmering of the bacon, beef, onions, carrots, etc. on top the range and then moved into the oven for the slow cooking process.

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There are a few things to consider before buying and using a Dutch Oven.  Dutch Ovens are heavy. You have to be confident that once it is full of hot food, that you will be able to move it about as is needed.

All exposed bits of iron on your Dutch Oven need to be oiled to keep it from rusting. I use a light vegetable oil for this task. If your Dutch Oven is enamel coated iron, the enamel coating can chip. If it chips the iron beneath can rust.  If your Dutch Oven is only partly enamel coated, same thing goes—all exposed bits of iron need to be oiled to keep from rusting.

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You have to give it time to transition from hot to cold and cold to hot. Fast changes in temperature can cause cracking or chipping of the enamel glaze.

It is because of the very thick, heavy walls of the pot that make it so good for slow cooking at a very consistent temperature. It is the kind of cooking that requires you to slow yourself down. The cooking cannot be rushed.

Once you have the Dutch Oven in the oven, you can use that cooking time–sometimes hours–to prepare the rest of the meal. Or you could have a nice cup of tea and relax.

A Dutch Oven isn’t as user friendly as a crock pot—and it is heavy; but, you won’t be disappointed with the results if you follow the recipes and treat your Dutch Oven with the care it requires.

 

 

Thanksgiving Guests

Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday in the United States. The chances are pretty good that you will travel or someone else will travel to visit you. Sometimes that may be a day trip, but there will come a time when you have to provide a place to sleep for a guest.

This was the first guest room that we used at Spring Rose Cottage. This Red Bedroom is decorated with Red/pink/cranberry English Transferware.  Since we didn’t have a designated “guest room” at that time, the least used bedroom in the house was used to serve that purpose. Our primary concerns were how to make the most of the space and solutions that we used to help our guest have a pleasant stay.

 

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The most important thing of course is a bed.  The next  would be the bed linens, blanket or quilt (depending on season and indoor temperatures), and a pillow are pretty much the basics. The only thing I will say about that is if you can provide a variety of blankets and pillows that is a plus.

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A vintage Lane hope chest serves as a place to lay out a suit case. But in many guest rooms space is tight so try to provide some space either for suitcase or hanging space in the closet.

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It is very helpful to have a bedside table with a lamp, tissues, a waste basket nearby and a coaster for a cup. Ours is a small room and really only has room for one small bedside table and we put it to good use.

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This bedroom does not have an ensuite. So I have provided water bottles so the guest doesn’t have to leave the bedroom to find water.

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I like to have a desk and chair available that someone can sit and write a letter or journal or use a laptop or tablet to do work. I keep the top drawer clean of personal items except some envelopes, pens, pencils, stamps and stationary. There is a power strip next to the desk for charging phones, laptops, or other devices.

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Especially in cases of a bedroom without an attached bathroom, it is helpful to provide bath towels, washcloths, and various sundries in the room. I like to use red English transfer ware to hold the washcloths and sundries. The red English transfer ware on the desk ties the color theme together with the artwork and plates on the wall.

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Another really nice thing to have is a comfy chair or settee with a reading lamp next to it—and maybe a few books or magazines.  The important thing is to make your guests feel as comfortable and welcome as you can manage. We had this antique settee and it fit perfectly in this room and the color went beautifully with the Cranberry color English Transferware.

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Do your preparation ahead of time. When your guests arrive, you will be truly thankful for the opportunity to spend time together.

Halloween Style

At Spring Rose Cottage we love Fall colors and decorating, especially when it comes to Halloween. This is the first year we have done any decorations on the house since we moved back in. Because of work commitments this year, the decorating fell to the kids.

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First they strung color lights on the porch posts. The left side post is covered in purple lights and the right side is covered in Candy Corn painted lights.

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Then they placed the pumpkins that they had carved on the porch. The two pumpkins closest to the posts were connected into the post lights, so there is no need for a bunch of cords draped across the porch.

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This Witch pumpkin wasn’t cut all the way through, but the design was scraped and carved to show when lit by a big bundle of string lights that is placed inside.

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This Cat pumpkin is a great example of a design that is cut all the way through the pumpkin rind. It is lit by candle placed inside the pumpkin.

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This Spider pumpkin is scraped (not cut out) and the spider has multiple red eyes.

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This Bat pumpkin is cut through and is candle lit.  The lid started to burn, so they removed the lid to allow the heat to escape. The kids enjoyed making the pumpkin designs, decorating, and giving out candy to Trick-or-Treaters. They are already planning what to do for next year.

 

 

Just a Bit of Serendipity

At the end of a long day at a professional conference in downtown DC, I expected to either go to a restaurant close by for dinner or do room service. Then a co-worker says, “I have to run an errand, do you want to come along and we can get dinner on the way back”.  So we did!

We ended up at the National Harbor at Rosa Mexicana—really excellent food and killer views of the waterfront. I loved watching the water taxi going between the National Harbor and Old Town Alexandria.

As were seated at a table along the window facing the water, I knew I had to take a photograph.

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Then as we ate, the sun slowly slipped out of view and the lights were all around the waterfront, I took another photograph. For a quiet Sunday evening, the area still seemed very vibrant.

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Before we leave, I take a final close-up picture of The Capital Wheel.

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Good Friends, Good Food. Good Views. Life is Good!!

Parlor Dwelling

Parlor Dwelling

Slow down you move too fast!!

During the cooler months, one of the most pleasant things we do at Spring Rose Cottage is to sit in the parlor in the evenings. Theo first used the term “Parlor Dweller” to describe people like me who thrive on both the quiet and reserve of the space.

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He subsequently painted “The Parlor Dweller” acrylic on canvas, a study in burnt umber. It is me in one of my favorite wing chairs.

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Wayne defines a parlor as a living room with no television—and he is quite correct. Sometimes “parlor dwelling” is a solitary affair where one can read, do needlework, write a book chapter or blog posts. Sometimes it can be a group activity like playing a board game, cards, name that tune, or playing music.

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One of our favorite endeavors is to take turns reading a book, short story or poems. I enjoy reading out loud and I love to hear someone else read.

I find the parlor is a most agreeable place to dwell.