Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Giving Thanks In Blue & White

Another memorable Thanksgiving celebration with loved ones! The past few years we have celebrated Thanksgiving at the Dacha. This year our Thanksgiving was at home instead.  We celebrated with Papa Dan's family.  His parents,  his sisters Dana and Kerry and Dana's husband Steve joined us.  A party of 8.

Rather than use the dining room, I  decided to set the table in the family room for a change of pace.   I also wanted to brighten up this year's dinner with a vibrant blue and white color scheme as opposed to the classic Fall palette of browns and burnt orange hues.

 The china is Blue Canton.  In addition to the its color, I chose these dishes since they are dishwasher safe!  Only the dinner and salad/bread plates were required for the menu.  Parklane crystal water goblets by Mikasa.  Blue Hungarian crystal stemware by Ajka.

The floral fabric used for the table cloth was designed by Sarah Walden, owner of Peacoquette Designs. I purchased 8 yards then I cut it into 2 equal pieces.  I took the 2 pieces and put them side by side and then sewed them together so had I the proper sized cover to  drape a couple inches from the floor all around the table.

For a little dramatic chinoiserie flair, I added a pair of ceramic Chinese guardian lions(Foo dogs)and small ming vases.  I set another Chinoiserie themed table for Christmas in 2015 which I used the very same foo dogs.  Although I have quite a few collections of Chinese guardian lions, these are my favorite.  I just love their deep rich blue color.

This year I wanted a photo of the turkey taking center stage on the table before it was whisked away to be carved for the buffet table. So, I placed the turkey platter at the center to reserve its space as I layered the table.

Voila! Papa Dan's 16 lbs turkey turned out beautifully. I embellished it with fresh sage,rosemary, slices of lemon,  slices of oranges and grapes. The fabulous enameled pagoda flatware was designed by the talented Tina of the Enchanted Home.

Lemon leaves,key limes and miniature pears adorn the ming vases and candlesticks.

The Menu

Buffet Table

Buffet Table

Carved Turkey

Sausage Stuffing

Green Beans sauteed in butter topped with deep fried onion rings

Vegetable Stuffing with Custard and Goat Cheese

Whipped Mashed Potatoes

Fresh Cranberry sauce

Dessert was the traditional vanilla ice cream with Papa Dan's moms delicious homemade pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Now, it's time to bring on the Christmas decorations. Happy Holidays!

I will be submitting this post to the "Share Your Style" blog party and Susan's Tablescape Thursdays where you can find wonderful and creative ideas from many talented bloggers.  Visit The Vintage Nest  and Between Naps On The Porch for more ideas.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Best Dressed Turkey(platter)

How many of us still put the turkey on the table? If you're the designated chef for Thanksgiving and also want to impress your guests with more than just a delicious turkey, here are some great costume ideas.
William Sonoma
Adding edibles on the platter such as fruits and herbs are a great way to visually enhance and prepare everyone's taste palette.
Suggestions:  Rosemary,sage,basil,tarragon,mint,lavender,lemons,limes,oranges,sage,cranberries,grapes,pears & walnuts.

I know its a challenge for me to find room on the table for the center attraction(Turkey) by the time I have brought all the supporting actors to the stage. 

The flowers, the candles, the stemware, the plates, the napkins and tabletop embellishment steal the show and crowd the space.

Here is a little a teaser of this year's table.  Although the Turkey platter will not be the main centerpiece for this year's table, it will take centerstage when the guests first arrive and before the traditional carving ceremony.  Please stay tuned for more photos and details of our Thanksgiving dinner celebration.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ashford Castle

Another fairytale property on my bucket list. An aristocratic residence turned resort! This is the Ashford Castle in Ireland.  Located 27 miles north of Galway.  It is distinguished from a palace not by its lack of grandeur but by the fact it was originally constructed to be a fortress as well as a residence.

The castle dates back to the 1200s when its original structure was built by the Anglo Norman House of Burke. The de Burgos (who surname became Burke) lost the property some three hundred years later to England's Lord President of Connaught, Sir Richard Bingham.

The property passed to the Browne family in the 1670s.  The Brownes established the estate of Ashford in 1715 and added a French style Chateau and a hunting lodge.  In 1852; the Guinness family (yes, the brewers of the beer; still loved today), purchased the property.

 Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness; started shaping the estate into its present form by adding a Victorian wing to the residence and purchasing an additional 26,000 acres.

Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness

He also had roads constructed and planted thousands of trees.  His son, Arthur, who was the first Baron Ardilaun, made numerous additional improvements to Ashford castle.

Connaught Room

He hired architects James Franklin Fuller and George Ashlin who designed a new east wing that connected to the early 18th Century part and added battlements to the entire structure. Lord Ardilaun's nephew, Ernest inherited the estate and he in turn transferred it to the Irish Government.

In 1939 a hotel was opened by Noel Huggard.  In 1970 the castle was purchased by a young property investor John F. Mulcahy who doubled its size with a new wing and building a golf course.  He continued to operate a resort at Ashford Castle until he sold it in 1985.

After a series of owners Ashford Castle was purchased by its present owner, The Red Carnation Hotels in 2012. Major renovations, including new windows and a lead roof and repaired stonework were completed and the property reopened in April 2015.

Luxurious pool-spa added in 2015
 On its website, the hotel boasts almost a new window for every year of the castle's 800 plus year history!  For more information, visit AshfordCastle.com

The 32 plush velvet seat cinema was added in 2014

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Schlosshotel Kronberg

Have you ever had the fantasy of living in a fairytale palace?  A stay at the Schlosshotel Kronberg im Taunus, Germany can fulfill that dream, at least temporarily.  

This magnificent property is located outside of Frankfurt. However, the grounds and surrounding environs are so bucolic you will feel much further away.  

Red Salon

This magnificent property is located 20 minutes away from Frankfurt. The sole reminder of your proximity to the city occurs as you drive the winding hillside roads and an occasional break in the forest provides a stunning view of Frankfurt's skyline in the distance.   Our family had the privilege of spending 6 heady nights here in the summer of 2016. 
Bibliothek (Library)

 This is a 19th century palace, designed by the royal architect, was built by Emperor Frederick III's widow, Victoria.
 (Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa 1840-1901)
 She was the daughter of Queen Victoria of England. She named her new home Friedrichshof in honor of her late husband. Palace intrigue surrounded the building of this castle.  

Blue Salon
The new Kaiser, Wilhelm II, had different political views from his progressive parents.   He viewed his father's legacy of promoting new constitutional rights to German citizens as as harmful to the monarchy.  

Palace Reception Foyer
  He was suspicious of his mother's politics and rejected her request to retire to the Sanssouci palace in Potsdam.  Using an inheritance of her own, Empress Victoria built her retirement castle, Freidrichshof, which is the present day Schlosshotel Kronberg  boasting original furnishings, artwork and 62 rooms.

Wilhelm II, German Emperor
Read Prussian Princesses: The Sisters of Kaiser Wilhelm II before you visit to get all the details of the family drama surrounding the palace.  

Green Room

The golf has its own fascinating history.  During the occupation of Germany after World War II, the US army turned the castle into an officer's club with a 18 holes golf course and driving range. 

Golf course
Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower reportedly played the course. 
 In 1954, the castle opened it's doors as a full service hotel-spa and golf resort. 

 OOur visit was in August which was a perfect time to see all the Hydrangeas in full bloom.  And they were abundant.  Not just on the property, but all over Kronberg

The property also has an exclusive "members only" golf association with private clubhouse on the premises. The golf course is opened from April to October and has a handicap of 36.

On the driving range
Not all American forces improved the property.  US Army Captain Kathleen Nash(club manager), Major David Watson and Colonel Jack Durants (The Hesse Jewel Heist) discovered a safe in a hole of the basement floor of the castle.  
Victoria balcony lounge

The outdoor lounge was the daily locale of card games between Papa and Daniel as I napped or explored the castle.

Inside they found the royal treasures the family hid before they fled the castle during the war.  The box contained loose diamonds,tiaras,rings,necklaces and other jewelry worth tens of millions.  

Enroute to the breakfast buffet
 Princess Margaret discovered the jewels were missing in early 1946 when the family went to retrieve the jewels to be used for the wedding of Princess Sophia. Eventually, they were apprehended and court martialed in 1951.  Unfortunately, the family only recovered 10 percent of what was stolen.
Main Dining Room
The beautiful main dining room is where fruhstuck(breakfast) was served every morning.  You could have your morning coffee or tea inside or out on the balcony overlooking the golf course.

Our international traveler hopelessly scouring the menu for anything with cheese and pommes frittes.  The wait staff accommodated his off the menu request.

For more information on the palace, visit Schlosshotel Kronberg.com