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What’s For Dinner? – Stuffed Peppers

As we’ve discussed before, every mother knows, those three words, “What’s for dinner?”, can be a horror on the days when you just can’t think of a thing to cook and if you ever see another chicken strip, or bowl of mac and cheese, or pizza, it will be too soon.  You really want your family to have healthy home cooked meals, if only there was a cook at home to make them!
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The Joy of Motherhood

First Photo of Sara Joy

No one knows pure joy like a woman who has just given birth….oh what joy it is!  For me, that moment when I first knew this joy was 35 years ago today when my first child, Sara Joy was born.  Randy and I had only been married 5 months when I found out I was pregnant.  We spent our first anniversary in our first Lamaze class.  It wasn’t what we had expected to be doing on that day but we were both very excited to be becoming a mommy and daddy.
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Savvy Secrets for Mothers

This week, being our week for “Mothering”, we are including Savvy Secrets for Mothers.  Every mother needs these to stay ahead of the game! Read more

You Can’t Outgive Your Mother


The second Sunday in every May brings joy for some and anxiety for others!  “What on earth can I give my mother?” you ask.  Perhaps it is because trying to find something meaningful enough to give to the person who actually gave you life can be difficult. Read more

Motherhood ~ Always Good For A Laugh

 


It has been said that “laughter is the best medicine” and that is certainly true with the wonderful job of Motherhood.   Read more

Cinco de Mayo and The Run for the Roses- Let’s Celebrate!


Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth day of May, commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867).  As a consequence, in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Puebla but not in the rest of the country. But it will surely be celebrated here all over the United States.

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Style Secrets – Shoes and Hats

We have always enjoyed “embellishing” store bought items with a bit of a personal touch and others seem to enjoy what we do as well.   For this reason, we thought it would be fun to share a couple of ideas with you.

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Savvy Secrets

It’s that time again.  As you know from time to time we want to share with you some helpful and interesting ideas that will make life simpler, easier, tidier, and maybe just more beautiful.  Check out these savvy secrets.  There are bound to be some here you will appreciate.  Read more

Mayday, Mayday….it’s May Day!


Isn’t it interesting how one word or phrase can be said and depending on who is hearing it, mean two completely different things?  If you asked a random group of people what they think of when they hear the words May Day you will get very different responses that  will often run along gender lines.

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The Perfectly Perfect Breakfast


It seems that whenever you mention oatmeal there is one of two responses…”I love oatmeal” OR “Yuck! I can’t stand oatmeal.”  Perhaps the second response is due to the fact that nearly everyday someone, somewhere is serving up some sticky, nasty goo, and referring to it as oatmeal.

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Food For Royals


All of this week, we have showered you with majestic information giving you a lot of magnificent food for thought.  Now we are going to give you some “Food For Royals”! Read more

Over A Cup of Tea – Happy Anniversary William and Catherine


Oh goodness, what an absolutely fabulous wedding, from start to finish. In fact, from the time that we heard that Prince William had asked his college sweetheart (and commoner), Catherine Middleton, for her hand in marriage, we were glued to the television and newspapers to follow along.  Their courtship had been a long one – a long one with a small split happening a few years into it. Read more

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer Wed

…and they lived happily ever after.  That is how we wanted this ‘would-be’ fairy tale to go, but alas, it was not to be.  What looked like a perfectly lovely romance was not all we thought it to be.   Read more

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip


Upon the death of George VI, a young Lilibet, his eldest child, ascended to the Throne of the British Empire.  The pomp and circumstance of her coronation came a year later in 1953. Read more

Edward & Wallis, George & Elizabeth – Love, Honour, Duty and Destiny

On January 20, 1936, King George V, grandson of Queen Victoria, died and his eldest son, Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David became that day, King Edward VIII.

It is hard to even imagine for most of us, what the life of a royal must be like.  We, who are not of royal lineage, can go about our daily business making decisions, and sometimes mistakes, for that matter, with little or no input save, maybe, that from our family.  But for all the other privileges that may accompany wearing the crown, this freedom to choose without  the input of a government and national opinion, is not a luxury that is among them.
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Victoria and Albert – A Love Story


As the first anniversary of the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, approaches later this week, we couldn’t help but reflect on the their love story and the fascination the world has for everything “royal”.  So your Two Chums thought it would be fitting, (and fun) to get “caught up”, as it were, on the other love stories that have surrounded the British throne.  Today we begin with one of the most famous and arguably the most culturally influential  of all the monarchs of the British or any empire, Queen Victoria and the great love of her life, Prince Albert.
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What Shall We Feed Them?


We have talked all this week about the various aspects of having a”smart” dinner party.  You may be asking yourself  “What exactly are they talking about when they say “smart”?  It is possible that you have thought we have been referring to a ‘smart dinner party’ as in having a chic sort of affair. Your party may very well be quite chic, and hopefully very lovely and wonderfully fun.  But what we really mean by ‘smart  dinner party’ is one where the host or hostess is smart enough to plan ahead and do things in as fine, but simplified a manner as possible, so as to be able to really enjoy the party.
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The Smart Hostess – Dressing The Part


(Ruth Forsyth-Smith, Jackie’s mum, on the far right looking quite stunning circa 1964)

What fun!  You have decided to give a dinner party …… now, what will you wear?

When you are in the planning stages of an event, one of the things you will think about is what you would like the “dress” to be.  The “dress” sets the stage for the type of evening you are going to enjoy.  You know, years ago, in the Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire days, when people went out to dinner, they more often than not, wore “Black Tie”.  By “Black Tie” it is meant that the gentleman wears a tuxedo and the lady wears a dressy dress – not necessarily a long dress but a party dress, as we like to call them.  We have often had parties where “Black Tie” was the attire and, oh boy, have we loved having them!  There is something rather special when everyone who comes in your door has made a huge effort to dress up to come to your party.  It denotes an elegance about the evening.  Very rarely these days does one get invited to a dinner party that is Black Tie but, on the other hand, many weddings are still “Black Tie”.  When you see “Black Tie” in the bottom right corner of your invitation, be sure that your husband, boyfriend, partner, wears a tuxedo and that you dress up accordingly.  When those two words are written on an invitation, there is not an option.  He must show up in a tuxedo!  If he does not own one, be sure to help him rent one.  If, on the other hand, your invitation states “Black Tie Optional”, your hostess is letting you know that the occasion is a special one and that, ladies, you need to dress up. Gentlemen, if you do not own a tuxedo, no need to rent one – a dark suit will do just as well.

If you would like your dinner party to be a little bit special, you might say “Cocktail Attire” which would mean that dressing up is in order!  Until a few years ago, “Cocktail Attire” would automatically have meant a jacket and tie for the gentlemen.   Today, especially here in California where we live, things are a little more casual and a lot of gentlemen do not don a tie very often.  There are certain private clubs which still maintain a “jacket and tie” rule so if you are giving a party at a private club or have been invited to such an evening, make sure you know the dress.  These clubs usually have jackets and ties on hand to lend to a gentleman, should he turn up without them but how much better for him to be in clothes of his own choosing!

As hostess, you will set the tone.   If you have told your guests that it is a casual evening, be sure that you dress casually.   Otherwise, your guests will feel very uncomfortable.

Choose something that you feel great in.  If you are having a problem thinking of something, remember what we said about the “little black dress“!    Certainly, that is always appropriate.  If you are the one doing all the cooking and serving for your dinner party, make sure you are in something that is comfortable and practical.  Do not wear a top with long, flowy sleeves, for example, which might catch on fire when you put the peas on to cook!   That top is better saved for an evening when you are out and being served!

My father’s job, as I was growing up, required a lot of entertaining.   It seemed that most evenings, my darling parents were entertaining or being entertained.  My mother had a wonderful wardrobe full of stunning dresses which she wore extremely well.   Fortunately for my father, my mother loved it all and did it beautifully – always with a smile on her face and love in her heart.   I am grateful to have learned from her – she taught by doing herself!

Make sure, when you are giving you next dinner party, that you add to the love, joy and abundant living in the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does The Knife Go On This Side Or That?


Setting a beautiful table for your guests to feast their eyes upon is a joy to do!  There is nothing prettier than to see the sparkle of the glassware, the shinny silver, and the crisp linens. Read more

Bone China or Porcelain?


Years ago, when we were engaged to be married, one of the things that we invariably did was choose a china pattern.  It was wonderful fun making the decision and imagining all the fabulous dinner parties at which you would be using these beautiful pieces.  I know, these days, many young ladies prefer not to spend the money on fine china but, definitely, up until not too long ago, it was a “must”!   Certainly, if you think you will never use it, then it really is a waste but if there is a chance that you will want to have special dinner parties or holiday meals, it is always fun to bring out your best and set a beautiful table. Read more

“Smart” Dinner Party Planning


Everyone loves the idea of a charming and elegant dinner party.  We love to look at photographs of tables set in anticipation of beautifully dressed guests and imagine all the witty conversation that might take place and dream about the delicious food to be served.  The desire to host, or be a part of, one of these parties is strong for most of us…the problem comes, not in the dreaming about such an event, but in the execution of this kind of a party.
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It’s Greek to Me


I have explained before in an earlier post written about Passover, that I grew up in a predominately Jewish neighborhood and gained a deep respect for the Jewish faith and  traditions, and love for Jewish people.   But prior to moving to that neighborhood, one of my closest friends was Greek.
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Sewing Essentials


When your Two Chums were growing up, part of being a “young lady” was having a basic knowledge of how to use a needle and thread.  Most of us of that day, know, very well, how to make a basic nightgown, how to follow a basic pattern, how to thread a needle and then use it to fix a loose hem or sew on a button.

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Cashmere Care


I know, I, for one, love cashmere in the winter.  There is something very cozy and comforting about cashmere and oh my goodness, a cashmere sweater keeps you very warm on a chilly day.

What we commonly call “cashmere”, is a fiber obtained from Cashmere and other types of goats.  Cashmere is fine in texture, and strong, light, and soft. Read more

Use What You’ve Got


Use what you’ve got…that message has been coming to me again and again since the beginning of this year.  Over and over again as I’ve gone out to buy something I thought I needed or wanted, or looked at something and wished I could buy it, I’ve heard that little voice reminding me…”Use what you’ve got.”
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Savvy Secrets – Tension Used In Great Ways!

Oh my goodness, we did not know there were so many ways to use a tension rod and are so happy to share these with you!

Following, you will find ten ways to use tension in a grand way! Read more

Ladies at Lunch

As we have been talking all this week about baby showers, I became curious as to how this custom began, especially in light of the fact that ‘showers’ as we know them are relatively unheard of in most other countries.  What I discovered in researching the subject was interesting….at least to me…so I’ll share it with you in case you are curious as I was.
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All Wrapped Up


Years ago Jackie and I had a shop called Chums.  You may have noticed on 0ur current logo for Two Chums that it says Est. 1987.   That is when we first opened our business.   We always said it was “a little shop where you could find all you need for giving”.
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Baby Shower? Let’s Have A Theme


We have been talking about hosting a baby shower this week and have chatted about the importance of creating a theme.  When you have a theme, you have great direction as your theme tends to “drive” the preparation process. Read more

A Pleasant Surprise


It is always interesting to me when something you are trying to do doesn’t work out the way you thought it would, but what comes about instead is so much better.  It is such a pleasant surprise when that happens don’t you agree?

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The Favor of a Reply is Requested


“Let’s have a baby shower!  Where shall we start?”

Well, we Two Chums always start with deciding on a theme.  We love to have a theme to follow as we are then able to tailor the whole party around that theme.   Today we are going to speak specifically about baby showers, though what we are talking about would apply to any shower.  Growing up in England, my introduction to showers was being invited to one an American friend of my Mother’s gave.  I had a wonderful time and loved the concept although in England (and in fact in most parts of the world) showers are unheard of except the ones that get you wet outside, of which there are many!

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A Good Egg


Easter is only a little more than a week away.  I believe that I mentioned to you before, I love Easter!  Every year I decorate eggs that I have blown and put a name on each one, for a guest who will be with us, and use the eggs as place cards at our Easter dinner table.  There is just no limit to the ways you can decorate an egg…and one is more fun than the next 🙂
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Every Table Needs One!


A dining room table always needs a centerpiece! This might be as simple as a potted plant or a bowl of lemons or as elaborate as a beautifully arranged floral arrangement but, whatever the occasion, the table needs the focal point of a pretty aesthetic. Read more

It’s Easter Break! What Shall We Do?

{Photo by Steven Wayne Rotsch}

“It’s Easter Break ~ what fun things can we do?”, you ask.  Your Two Chums have a few suggestions which we would like to share.

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Easter -A Celebration of Faith, Family and Food

In just 12 days, we will celebrate Easter.  It is the biggest holiday and most holy of days for those who are Christians.  It is the story of sacrifice and redemption, of good overcoming evil, the story of love triumphing over death, the story of resurrection and new life.  Ultimately it is our reason for hope.  I love Easter.
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Passover and An Answered Prayer

I grew up in a neighborhood in Los Angeles known as Hancock Park.  It is a beautiful area.   Our neighborhood had streets lined with sycamore trees and older gracious homes that make you feel as if you have stepped back in time.  When we moved in,  I prayed that there might be a girl my age living on our block whom I would become friends with, someone whose family had the same sort of values as mine did and who would understand the role that faith played in my everyday life.  I prayed for and was hoping for a friend with whom I had these things in common.

Looking out the big picture window in our living room on the day we moved in, I was  surprised to see people coming and going from the house directly across the street who were dressed in what looked like some kind of 1800’s costume.  They looked so strange and almost ancient to me.  I called to my mother and father to come and see what I was seeing.  We all stood there staring at the sight of men dressed in long black coats with wide brimmed hats trimmed in some sort of fur and they all had long beards and long curls for sideburns.  With hands flying around gesturing as they spoke, their language was one I had never heard before.

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Sweet Bites

We have spent this week with you, our Chums, talking about the various aspects of tea, taking tea, having tea parties and heartfelt thoughts of those dear to us.  But we couldn’t finish out the week, or a tea party, without some Sweet Bites to eat.  For us any tea time wouldn’t be complete without some scones, lemon curd, raspberry or strawberry jam, and a lemon tea cake.
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Over A Cup of Tea….


Many things have taken place, historically, “over a cup of tea”.    Romance has been born, wars have ceased, relationships healed, lives forgiven.  From time to time, we feel that it would be fun to have an “Over A Cup of Tea…” session where we share heartfelt thoughts about people or things important to us.

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Gentle Customs

I spent a lot of my growing up years in England and so was fortunate to be able to drink in some wonderful English customs.  Every country has its individual, enchanting customs and England is no different.  One of these customs is that a lot of children in England go “away” to school – in other words, they go to a boarding school.  In the United States, it is not a common practice for people to go to boarding school but, in England, it is. Read more

Afternoon Delight


In 1973 I spent a summer in England.  It was a great experience that taught me so many things and gave me many lovely memories.  Though I have happily returned to England several times over the years, it was that first trip that gave me two of my favorite things…Toasted Cheese Sandwiches and Afternoon Tea.

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“Let’s put the kettle on”


It’s stereotypical that the British response to any bad news, up to and including major disasters, can be “let’s put the kettle on”!  A good “cuppa” will make whatever is wrong, right!
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A Touch of the Blarney

Have you ever noticed that on March 17th no matter where you were born or what your family heritage is, everyone seems to be at least a little Irish?  My family is no exception.  We all don something green and have a St. Paddy’s Day celebration complete with corned beef and cabbage for dinner.  So it was no surprise that as Jackie and I discussed what we would write about for today’s posting, it would have to be something to do with the worldwide celebration tomorrow of St. Patrick’s Day.

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Kitchen Essentials

 

A good friend, David, asked us to talk about two things he wanted to know more about….essential tools for the kitchen and how to work within a small kitchen space.  I have some experience with both, but today will focus on the essential kitchen tools and leave the subject of working in a small kitchen for another day.

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A Kitchen Face Lift

Many hours are spent in the Kitchen and, for this reason, we feel that it is really important to make that space not only very practical, but also comfortable, and cheerful.  We are firm believers in the fact that things can be both practical and beautiful at the same time.  One is not exclusive to the other – in fact, one doesn’t do well without the other, in our minds! Read more

Savvy Secrets

Here we are again with ten more “Savvy Secrets”!  We hear of these wonderful helpful hints and cannot help but want to share them. Our dear friend Nancie shared these with us.  If you have some helpful hints or some savvy secrets we would love to hear them.
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Rise and Shine!

We have some new additions to our family.  Back in October Bianca, Colette, Edith, Fiona and Giselle joined us.  You will probably hear about them from time to time, they are the feathered members of our family….our chickens.  They arrived via the US Postal Service from My Pet Chicken when they were just about 24 hours old.

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What’s for Dinner? – Spaghetti

We’ve all been there from time to time.  Kitchen doors swing open and all across the country that sometimes dreaded question “What’s for dinner?” is asked as mothers cringe trying to come up with the answer.  I guess this image says it all. Read more

A Grandmother’s Love


I believe that there comes a point in every life where there is, if only for a fleeting moment, a sense of completeness.  For me it came as I stood by my grandmother’s hospital bed, holding her hand as she left this world and went on to the next.

The profoundness of birth and death give definition to our lives, which seem otherwise often to be just so many ordinary days strung together like a sentence and punctuated by a few very high and low moments.

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Onesies and Burp Cloths and Babies…Oh My!

What, besides love, does a baby need more than onesies and burp cloths?  It seems that a new mother cannot have enough of these two items.

We are very fond of giving these as gifts to a brand new baby and have great fun creating our own designs.   We are going to share with you how you, too, can do this. Read more

Mind Your Manners!


Mind your manners, sounds like it is coming from a rigid Third Grade teacher with a stick in hand.  On the contrary, one of the most loving things parents can do is to teach their children good manners.  It will help them to be successful on the playground, in the classroom, throughout college, in the workplace and in all of their relationships.

I am sure we have all met children with especially good manners.  What a delight they are to be around and how charming they sound!  They stand out in contrast to those who have not been taught good manners. Read more

Eat Your Vegetables!

 

Eat your vegetables!  Most people have either heard or said those words because we all have parents or are parents ourselves.  Our parents said them to us, and we in turn have passed on this dreaded edict to our offspring.   The sad part is, it is almost always said in response to a child who has declined to even taste something from the vegetable category of the food pyramid.

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Southern Comfort


I grew up a native of Los Angeles, a fourth generation Angelino on my father’s side.  The roots of my soul however, grow deep in a place that I have never actually lived.  My mother, and her side of my family tree, originated in the South, and thus those were the lessons I learned of food and family and fun times. Read more

That’s Right ~ Carnations!

I, along with a lot of other people, used to poo poo carnations.  What, carnations for a dinner party centerpiece?  Are you crazy?   Carnations are only used for funerals because they are hearty and last a long time! Read more

The Little Black Dress and A Strand of Pearls

No matter what your style is, there are two things that are timeless ~ the “little black dress” and pearls.

In the 1920’s Coco Chanel brought us the “little black dress” that eventually became, and continues to be, a symbol of chic and sophisticated simplicity.   As Vogue magazine predicted at the time, it became, “a uniform for all women of taste”.  Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffanys epitomized the standard for wearing the little black dress accessorized with pearls. Read more

To quote Coco Chanel…

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”   ~ Coco Chanel

Oh Coco, what inspired words you speak!

This past Sunday, while the world watched the Oscars, there were many fabulous, stylish women who walked the red carpet.

          

I think that we all agree that there were, on the other hand, some pretty unfortunate dresses.

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Minny’s Chocolate Pie

Last night was one of my favorite of the year.  It was Oscar night, or as my husband refers to it, “the super bowl for women”.  He isn’t much interested in all the Red Carpet interviews with the stars and the clothes and jewelry, some of the things I LOVE about this event, but he participates because he enjoys movies almost as much as I do, and besides, he knows there will be food involved.  Every year there is a small group of us who watch the Oscars together and the entree is themed around one of the Best Picture nominees. Read more

Tomato Bisque and Toasted Cheese Sandwiches

 When food can be considered simple enough to be comfort food and be sophisticated enough to be served at smart cocktail parties, it isn’t hard to understand why we would want to share it with you.  Tomato Bisque and Toasted Cheese Squares are really dressed up names for tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

 When I was in college I spent a summer in England,  mostly in the north in a little town called Burrough-in-Furness.  There was a little sandwich shop that made the best cheese sandwiches I had ever tasted. They were a cousin of the grilled cheese sandwich I was used to from home, but MUCH better because they were not grilled in a pan but toasted in the oven.

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Create a Professional Looking Buffet Table

Having a buffet dinner party or a potluck?  Not sure how to make it look great?  Let us help you make it look professional and most welcoming. It is simple enough to do with things you probably already have at home.  Here’s how: Read more

Deviled Eggs and Hot Artichoke Dip

As the night for the Academy Awards approaches, we promised to give you some ideas for your Oscar party.  Today we want to share with you two of our favorite recipes, Deviled Eggs and Hot Artichoke Dip.

Deviled eggs are one of those foods that conjures up happy childhood memories of family gatherings.  They’re a simple food that you eat with your fingers at picnics or barbeques or maybe on Easter.  So, years ago, as we prepared for a cocktail party, it seemed a stretch to serve such an “ordinary” item on a buffet that wanted to be…….not stuffy……but maybe a little bit elegant.  Still we needed one more item to round out the menu and fill a gap in the buffet table, and what we had in abundance were eggs, so why not try them, along with the other dishes being prepared and just see how they were received? Read more

Savvy Secrets

Synonymous with Two Chums is love, joy, and abundant living.  We have found that there is nothing stopping anyone, at any time, from feeling love, joy and enjoying an abundant life.   We can feel love by loving and have joy by being joyous.   An abundant life comes with having an abundant thought. Read more

A Cherry on Top

Today as a nation we celebrate Presidents’ Day, which is basically a combined celebration of the birthdays of  George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  When I was a child Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays were separate holidays and celebrated on their actual birthdays, which  meant we had two days off of school unless, of course, one of them fell on a weekend. Read more

A Story of Meatloaf and Butterscotch Pudding

“What do meatloaf and butterscotch pudding have to do with each other?” you may well be asking yourself.  Unless you are me, the answer is most likely, “Nothing.”

The year was 1977 and I was married less than a year, pregnant, and horribly sick.  I did not have morning sickness that lasted the usual first 3 months when one is expecting.  I had all day and all night, constant, unrelenting nausea and vomiting, which I have since learned was due to something with a weird name that basically means I was highly allergic to being pregnant.  Not to my precious daughter, Sara, but to whatever hormones my body was making to keep the pregnancy going.  I was a mess.

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A Note From Lady Churchill

Because my darling father was an international banker, I had the absolute pleasure of travelling the world and living in many different countries.  We lived in Trinidad and Hong Kong, New York and London, and finally, Nassau, Bahamas.  I would take on accents by osmosis.  Being Canadian, we would return to Canada in the summertime and our relatives would always know where we were living by the way I was talking.   It offered me an amazing education.  I met so many interesting people and what it taught me was that we are all the same, the world over, having the basic need of being able to love and being loved.

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And the Oscar goes to…


Over the years, some very well known and glamorous people have leapt to their feet and taken the stage when hearing this familiar phrase.  Though most of us will never be in their situation, we can all identify with the excitement of being acknowledged for a job well done.  In the film industry, Oscar is the icon synonymous with excellence.

There are many stories floating around as to how Oscar got his name but one legend has it that Eleanor Lilleberg, a Norwegian-American, who was the Executive Secretary to Louis B. Mayer exclaimed when viewing the statuette, “It looks like King Oscar II!”  Before leaving for the day, she asked, “What should we do with Oscar?  Put him in the vault?” and the name stuck.

Oscar, today, is made of gold-plated britannium on a black metal base.  During World War II, with a desire to support the War effort, the statuettes were made of plaster, and later, traded in for gold ones when the War ended.  Oscar is 13½ inches tall and weighs 8½ pounds.  He is actually a knight designed in the art deco style, holding a crusader’s sword, while standing on a reel of film with five spokes.  Each of these spokes represents a branch of the Academy:  Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.

America is in love with this, her favorite award show.  We love to see the clothes, we love to hear the interviews, and we love to speculate on who the winners will be, most certainly, “Best Actress”, “Best Actor” and “Best Picture”.

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But the greatest of these is Love.

The two people pictured here don’t represent, for most of us, the classic picture of love and romance.  They aren’t the “beautiful people” we have come to associate with tabloid and magazine covers depicting the latest celebrity romance or breakup.  They are two ordinary people who taught me an extraordinary lesson about real love.  They are my maternal grandparents, John and Willie Ridgway, or Papaw and Nanner to me.

Their 66 year marriage was not what I would call an epic romance.  It was a great love story.  In their 66 years together they weathered the Great Depression, the tragic and sudden death of a 20 year old daughter leaving behind a 4 month old daughter of her own for them to help raise, a cross country relocation, multiple muggings after moving to California, and the other sundry challenges and hardships you might imagine that any two people who lived together for 66 years would have to encounter. Read more

Love is in the Air

Love is the air or, at least the SMELL of love is in the air!

Nothing smells more like love and comfort than the aroma of fresh bread and we have a wonderful, easy, foolproof recipe for French bread.  If you have not had a love affair with yeast, but, in fact, have had what a psychologist would call “an avoidance issue”, now is your chance for some therapeutic intervention.  This recipe has all the makings of a great love story:  it’s warm, inviting, and oh so steamy!  Whether you are cooking tomorrow or not, try this bread.  You will LOVE it and will be loved every time you make it.  We guarantee it.

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The Perfect Chocolate Cake

This is the story of how I came to have a recipe for  THE PERFECT CHOCOLATE CAKE.

I am blessed with a husband who is extremely easy to please, at least as far as food is concerned.  We will have been married 36 years on the 28th of this month, and in all that time he has never complained or had a negative comment about anything I have made for him.  Anything, that is, except chocolate cake.

I love to bake (probably because I love to eat, but that’s another story) and I learned early on in our relationship that chocolate cake is Randy’s favorite.  So, since I love to bake and I love Randy, I wanted to make him the best chocolate cake he had ever eaten on the first Valentine’s Day after we were married.  I used a delicious sounding Bon Appetit recipe I had been saving and was thrilled at how it turned out.  But to my dismay, when I served him my masterpiece, he was underwhelmed to say the least.  I was sooooo disappointed because I wanted  badly to make him happy and knowing that he was so easy to please about everything else, I was perplexed as to why he wasn’t delighted with the cake I had made especially for him.

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Love Letters

My dear chum,

“To write a good love letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say and to finish without knowing what you have written.”
-Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Printed cards that one buys certainly have their place, and sometimes say exactly what you are feeling, but hand written notes from the heart are probably the most cherished gifts one could receive.  There is no better way to tell someone how you feel about them – start writing and just let it flow.  It will be felt, deep into the soul of the receiver. Read more

Roses Are Red

{Photos by Two Chums)

Why red roses for love?  As the story has it, the red rose was the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and, since then, the red rose has been associated with lovers.  The tradition lives on.  From timeless pieces of art and classical poetry to modern day music and media, red roses are seen depicting the message of love.

For most people, red roses simply mean “I love you” and that is why, in the United States, one hundred and ten million roses, the majority being red, will be sold and delivered within the three-day time period around Valentine’s Day.  Amazing!

Robin and I do most of our flower shopping at the Los Angeles Flower Market in downtown Los Angeles. Read more

Gifts From The Heart

It goes without saying that some people dislike the fact that card and candy companies promote Valentine’s Day with the intent of making large profits.  But I think in a world of people hungry for love, and longing to be known by someone who cares, we should grab every opportunity that comes our way to show love to anyone our hearts bring to mind.  That might be a friend, a sister or brother, certainly a child or grandchild, a parent, and of course a spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend.  Expressing love and affection is always a good idea.

Sometimes though, the difficulty isn’t the desire to express one’s affection, but just plain feeling stuck when it comes to choosing a gift that might show someone you care.  It is hard to feel good about typical generic gifts like an average looking tie or drugstore box of candy, or some little meaningless thing you picked up on the fly just to at least have something for that special someone.

What matters most to people is how much thought you have put into the token of your affection, whatever that is.  Take some time to really think about the person for whom you are buying or making a gift, and what things he or she likes.  What is their favorite music, favorite color, favorite restaurant? Do they love to read or have a special hobby or sport they enjoy?  Is there something you have heard them say they are wishing they had? Your gift may or may not be something that would generally be considered classically romantic, but if it is something that you know the person you love has been longing to have, I assure you they will appreciate the fact that you know them well enough to know what they would love to receive.  This is what we mean by “a gift from the heart”.

(A note here to the wise….. if your wife or girlfriend has mentioned that she wishes she had a new toaster, this is NOT the time to fulfill that wish.  Appliances just aren’t ever a good idea for Valentine’s Day, so try to find something else she is wishing she had.)

Jackie and I put our heads (and hearts) together and came up with a short list of some gift suggestions for this Valentine’s Day.  These are just ideas that we hope will spark some other creative ideas for you.  We would love to hear from you about what creative gifts you have come up with for your special someone.  Please share them with us, and all our chums!

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Strawberry Meringue

When a friend passed out this recipe many, many years ago, we did not realize what a journey it would take.  Its presentation is quite beautiful and people rave about how it tastes.  We have used and used and used it and, every time we do, we realize, once again, that it is a very easy, amazingly pleasing dessert.  We have offered it on countless dessert bars, as the finishing morsel at elegant dinner parties, as a wonderful companion to a good cup of tea and, on many occasions, as a birthday cake.

The meringue is best baked the night before you want to serve it, and then left in the oven (having not opened the oven door), overnight.  It has NEVER failed us and we feel sure that it will never fail you.  Enjoy!

{photos by Natalia Chydzik}

 

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Chums Etiquette

{Photo by Lillian Bassman for Harper’s Bazaar 1950}

etiquette [et-i-kit, -ket] : noun

1. conventional requirements as to social behavior; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion.
2. a prescribed or accepted code of usage in matters of ceremony, as at a court or in official or other formal observances.
3. the code of ethical behavior regarding professional practice or action among the members of a profession in their dealings with each other: medical etiquette.

This word, etiquette, seems to scare people a little bit but, in fact, we find that having a knowledge of acceptable etiquette makes us feel very comfortable where ever we may find ourselves. Your Two Chums absolutely LOVE etiquette books and are constantly looking something up to make sure they are on a good track.

Never be afraid to ask a friend an “etiquette question”.    Please contact us if we can help you!  Just click the “Dear Chums” button and question away!  It will be our pleasure to help you.

Classic Quiche

Photo by Natalia Chydzik

 Over the years we have found that one of the most versatile and fun meals, for both host or hostess and guest, is brunch.  And one of our favorite brunch foods is Classic Quiche.  This is another “go to” recipe for the Two Chums because it is easy and delicious and can be made well ahead of time and re-warmed or served at room temperature.

 This recipe is not for those who are on a perpetual diet or who like to modify original recipes to be more low calorie and then proclaim “You’ll never taste the difference”.  Unless your taste buds have been very seriously altered, we can promise you WILL taste the difference if you skimp on ingredients or use low fat anything.  If you only eat this once in a while, make and eat it the way it is supposed to be made or we would have to say it is better to find another dish to serve.  We sound pretty emphatic about this but once you’ve tasted it you will know why.   Enjoy!

Crust

2 ½  cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup butter chilled and cut into small pieces
¼ to ½ cup ice water Read more

Welcome to Two Chums

Photo by Natalia Chydzik

It seems quite fitting to us that our first entry as we establish our home on the World Wide Web would be on the subject of hospitality.  It is what we are all about.   Hospitality is one of those things that you may not have a snappy definition for, yet you know it when you see it, (or feel it), and when you don’t.

On the surface entertaining and hospitality can seem very much the same, yet they are really totally different. Entertaining is focused on drawing attention to the host or hostess, and how wonderfully and beautifully she (or he) can do things.  Hospitality is focused on one’s guests, and doing things beautifully in order that they will feel special.

How many times have you heard someone on television, who was cooking or decorating or making something for a party say, “Now this will really impress your guests!”  Our culture is bombarded by messages that we need to do things well so others will think more highly of us.

We all hear and read tips on entertaining.  The shelves in the bookstores are full of books on the subject and there are endless websites that are dedicated to helping you entertain.  We are not one of them.

Two Chums is all about excellence and doing things well, and when we extend an invitation, we want our guests to see that things are beautifully done, and much time has been given to preparation, because they are special and worth our time and efforts.  As you visit us each day we will be sharing with you things we’ve learned along the way in our homes with our families about love, joy and abundant living that is within everyone’s reach.  We will share about the parties and celebrations we are having, about home decor projects and  things we’ve learned about the art of gift giving.  And of course some thoughts from our hearts.

Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”  Making others feel wanted and welcome, showing hospitality, is one of those small things we all can do with great love.

So though you may never actually visit the houses where we live, we want to invite you to visit our Two Chums home everyday.  We will do our best to prepare for you because we care, and we want you to know we think you are worth our time and effort.

Welcome to Two Chums!

English Trifle

The word “trifle” comes from the old French term “trufle,” and means something of little consequence.  Had they tasted this trifle they might not have thought so!  A proper English trifle is made with egg custard, cake, usually stale or left over cake, with a fruit syrup and sherry and topped with whipped cream.

We will give the recipe for each of the important components but obviously if you happen to have some stale cake lying about feel free to use it.  Also we used fresh raspberries and Fresh Raspberry Freezer Jam but store bought jam or strawberries and strawberry jam are equally delicious.
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Fresh Raspberry Freezer Jam

This will be the easiest and most delicious jam you’ll ever make! Read more

Cake Pops

When it comes to birthday celebrations, nothing seems more fun than pretty cake pops! Read more

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