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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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