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BBQ – Pulled Pork

When most people hear the term “barbeque” or “barbecue” or just “BBQ” they think of someone standing over a grill with flames, flipping burgers or steaks.  Yet as anyone with southern origins will tell you, that is “grillin”…..REAL barbeque is something very different.  Real barbeque is a slow method of cooking that involves smoke and a lot of time and eventually produces tender, succulent, flavorful goodness that can’t be rushed.  Depending on where in the south you are, pork or beef will be the meat of choice and of course there is the difference in sauces regionally as well.  But at the end of the day any meat slow cooked and infused with smokey flavor is delicious no matter which part of the country it comes from.
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Savvy Secrets for Grilling


Just 2 more days until people all over the country fire up their grills and barbeques for the country’s celebration of Independence Day, July 4th!  Here are some helpful hints, better known by your Two Chums as Savvy Secrets….. for grilling….. Read more

All Hail to the Red, White and Blue

Red, white and blue sangria, that is!  All over this country this weekend, grills will be lit and barbeques readied as the celebration of our independence begins.
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The Grand Old Flag


The 4th of July is just around the corner and everywhere across this great country we will see the flag proudly being flown.  In 1906 George M. Cohan penned the words to the popular song about our flag that will be heard again and again in the next few days:

You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You’re the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev’ry heart beats true
‘neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there’s never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.
I feel a swell of pride each time I see an American flag flying and waving in the breeze and even more so on July 4th when flags are flown everywhere.  Today we wanted to help you brush up on info about our flag, share some things you may not know, and the give you the official etiquette for flying our national colors.

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The Bees Know!


Nothing is better in summer than sweet, ripe, delicious fruit.  Earlier this week we wrote about peaches.  Today we are talking about melons….specifically how to pick a good melon and then how to cut it.
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Cover Up!


Celebrating this great Nation’s birthday tends to bring out the beach in most people and so we thought it would be fun to share something with you that will add to your Fourth of July beach outfit.  Read more

Just Peachy


I love peaches.  There are few things that say “summer” to me as much as a sweet, ripe peach.  I am talking about the kind of peach that is so juicy you have to eat it over the sink or holding a napkin under your chin because the juice runs down your face when you bite into it.  The kind of peach that is so sweet your fingers and hands are all sticky when you’re done.  But you probably don’t even care because you feel like you just had a little taste of heaven.  Just the fragrance that a bowl of ripe peaches gives off makes me happy.  So today I am going to share some “peachy” drinks that I love and hope that you might enjoy them too.
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My Favorite Italian Dessert – Tiramisu


Now I ask you…..what could possibly be wrong with anything that combines, cookies, coffee, brandy, cocoa, and the creamy deliciousness of mascarpone cheese?  Before you even taste it you KNOW you are going to love it!

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My Favorite Centenarian


Our “favorites” week continues today with my favorite centenarian….my mother’s first cousin, Douglas Manning.  Douglas is the son of my grandfather’s older sister, Janie.  This past weekend my mother and I, and two of my cousins traveled from California to Yoakum, Texas to celebrate his 100th birthday.
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Favorite Birthday Memories

As we continue this week with “favorite things”, today we want to share with you our favorite birthday memories.  Jackie’s birthday last year was a very special one that we all were thrilled to be able to celebrate with her and to surprise her as well.
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Lemon Ricotta Pancakes-Let’s Have Breakfast For Dinner


This week we are exploring some of our favorite things.  Yesterday we talked about childhood memories of swinging, one of our favorite summer joys.  Today we want to share one of our favorite breakfast foods…Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.
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Swinging into Summer


Summer holds so many special memories for me.  As a child I spent a lot of time at family gatherings.  My mother’s family was especially large, she had 67 first cousins!  So there were always relatives visiting from somewhere in Texas, and all those who had made their way west and were living in California, would gather to welcome them, eat lots of good food, swap stories, sing, talk some more, eat some more, and if you were lucky enough to be a child, play all afternoon uninterrupted because the adults were too busy laughing and talking and eating to care about what you were doing.

Whenever the gathering happened to be at my Aunt Rhoda’s home, I knew the afternoon would include two things: homemade ice cream and a trip to the neighborhood park to swing on the tallest swing I had ever seen.  I could spend hours on that swing, climbing through the air up into the trees and overlooking rooftops so that I felt like a bird soaring through the air.  Sometimes someone would notice how high my swing was going and call out “too high” and I would have to slow my swinging down until they were busy talking again and didn’t notice.

There was something about swinging that felt exhilarating and calming all at the same time.  So I made a mental note that someday when I had my own home I wanted to have a swing that would be ever at the ready for any child who wanted that glorious experience.

Since I’ve been married, we have always had a swing of some kind in our back garden but when my grandchildren were born I found the perfect swing for little ones. My sweet husband found just the right limb in our big old tree and secured the robes to hold it and in no time it was up and ready.

It is a wooden chair swing with a safety bar across the front that doesn’t allow the children to fall out when gliding through the air.  And glide through the air they have, nearly every day since it went up 8 years ago.  It was originally painted white but has become weather-worn with age.  The children love it.  Every child who comes into the garden seems to make a beeline for the swing.  They wait impatiently for their turns at birthday parties and family gatherings.  What I love the most about this swing are the sweet giggles that only a child full of delight can make that come sailing through the air falling on everyone in earshot.

My niece Ashley asked me the other day where I got the swing because she wants one too.  Then it came to me that if I love having this swing for my grandchildren, nieces and nephews and other little friends, there just might be others of you out there that would enjoy the sight and sounds of childlike delight that these pieces of wood fashioned into a swing would bring to you as well.

I had long since forgotten the name of the place it came from, but I did a little research and found a swing like it on line.  If  you have children and a tree to hang a swing from, you just might want one too.

Whether you decide to buy a swing like this or not, I hope soon this summer you may hear those same sweet squeals of delight and know again this kind of childhood joy.   Childhood is fleeting but there are memories to be made that will last a lifetime.  It isn’t just a swing, it is one of those small things that can so easily contribute to a more abundant life full of love and joy.

Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake


Whatever else goes on this weekend, Sunday is the national day for celebrating our fathers.  And what could be better for doing that than to offer your father, or the father of your children something sweet and delicious?
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Sweet Memories of Our Fathers

I came to realize a long time ago that a little girl learns how to be woman from from her mother, but she practices on her daddy.  What a joy to spend some time this week reflecting about our fathers and what they have meant to us throughout our lives.  So many sweet memories have been brought to mind again for both Jackie and me this week.
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What Shall We Give Him?

It has been said, “One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.”

– George Herbert

What to give such an important person in our lives as a gift that will express our love and affection?  For most fathers any gift you give with love will be appreciated.  But so often one hears, “Men are so difficult to buy for – ladies are easy but men are really hard!”.  Well, as far as Father’s Day gifts go, the first and foremost thing that we would suggest is love – wrap it up any way you want, but the very best may be to pour it, abundantly, into a little envelope!  And, by that, we mean, that you might put pen to paper and express to your father or to the father of your children just how much you love him and what it is that you love about him most.

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Comfort Food for Dad


As you know we are focused this week on those wonderful people we will celebrate this coming Sunday…Dads:)  They come in all shapes and sizes and have all different opinions and tastes.  But it has been my experience over the years that one universal quality about fathers is that they all love comfort food….well for that matter who doesn’t? !!!
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“A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet”


I have the distinct privilege of penning some thoughts about that blessed group of people – fathers.  Oh, how I could go on and on about my father – suffice it to say that my father was, and continues to be in my heart, very special.  He is a rock – so principled and so kind. Read more

Coronation Chicken

Well the week of celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II is coming to a close.  In Britain and throughout the Commonwealth countries the celebrations will continue all year.  But here at Two Chums we will move on to other subjects and just quietly continue to celebrate this monumental occasion.  To close out the week we wanted to give you the very recipe for the chicken that was served at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation celebration 60 years ago…..thus the name…Coronation Chicken. Read more

Over a Cup of Tea – Reflections on the Queen’s Jubilee


Oh what a lovely week it has been thus far with all the grand celebrations in honor of Queen Elizabeth!  Jackie and I have loved each and every minute of it, from the concert, the clothes, the fanfare and the drama of the pageantry!  No one does ceremony and pageantry better than the British!  And what joy to see so many people all over the world but especially in London coming together in national pride to honor their Queen.
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Savvy Secrets About the Queen Plus Her Christmas Pudding Recipe


As you have surely figured out by now, we are unashamedly fans and admirers of Her Majesty the Queen, and love knowing about all things “Royal”.  We are assuming there are some of you who visit us here at Two Chums who just might feel the same.  So we can’t help ourselves this week as we celebrate this most happy and extraordinary week for the subjects of the Queen who live all over the globe , Jackie being one of them as a Canadian citizen.  Monday we shared some facts about the Queen but today here are some more fun facts ….or savvy secrets about Queen Elizabeth you may not know….including the recipe for the Christmas Pudding she gives as gifts every year….jolly good:)

1. She doesn’t have a passport.

Despite being history’s most widely traveled head of state—she has reportedly visited 116 countries during her 60-year reign—Elizabeth does not hold a passport. Since all British passports are issued in the queen’s name, she herself doesn’t need one. She also doesn’t require a driver’s license, though she has been known to take joyrides around her various estates in her Range Rover. Read more

The Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen

 

Once again, England has put on her party dress in celebration of her Queen’s Diamond Jubilee!  The standards are raised, the trumpets are ready to be blown and the church bells are waiting to peal!  Grab your flag and prepare to party like a Royal!

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Everything You Wanted To Know About The Queen And Were Afraid To Ask!


This being the official week of Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee which marks her sixtieth year on the throne of England, we, being avid Royal Watchers, couldn’t help ourselves in sharing these facts with you.  We found these on the Official Website of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
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Happy Birthday Jackie!


Please join me in wishing my dear “Chum” many happy returns of the day and another year full of love, joy and abundant living!

 

Put Another One On The Barbie


“Put another one on the barbie” is a familiar phrase that we have come to expect to be spoken by someone sporting a distinctively Aussie accent when referring to shrimp.  We are putting a little twist on that phrase.

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Over A Cup of Tea – Storing Recipes and “PG Tips”


We had a couple things we thought it would be fun to share with you today.  They are totally unrelated except that they are things we love and wanted to pass them along to you, our “Chums”.
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Floating Away


These lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are here!  One of our favorite things to do when we see the first signs of summer is to lie on one of these Swimways floats in the pool with a great Chum or a good book.  Read more

Savvy Secrets for Outdoor Entertaining

A few helpful hints today for that wonderful American past time, “Cooking on the Barbecue”.  I remember when I lived in London, barbecuing was unheard of.  But here in America, at the time, and indeed now, it was going on every weekend in every backyard in America! Read more

Memorial Day Menu and Recipes


When  it comes to barbeque, I’m not just talking about grilling.  I mean real true blue Texas style barbeque which involves some smoke and some patience and a lot of napkins 🙂

Menu

Baby Back Spareribs
Classic Potato Salad
Cole Slaw
Corn on the Cob
Watermelon
Deviled Eggs
Homemade Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

 

Baby Back Spareribs

12 lbs. ribs
Dry Rub *(see below)
Sauce**
1-2 bags Mesquite chips
Charcoal
Soak mesquite chips in water for 30 minutes.  While they are soaking, prepare the ribs and the barbeque.  Rub slabs of ribs generously with dry rub.*  Meanwhile light a fire at one end of barbeque only.  When coals turn white, spread a couple of handfuls of wood chips on top of the coals. Place ribs on the grill away from coals and fire.  Cover and smoke ribs for 3-5 hours.  Add more soaked wood chips every hour and maintain a temperature of about 275 degrees.

When they look good and smoky (they will be pink and a little crusty on the outside from the smoke) remove ribs from the grill.  Cut the ribs apart and dip into sauce to coat.

Place on a lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until very tender and very crusty on the outside.  Grab some napkins and taste a little bit of heaven!

*Dry Rub
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

**Sauce
1 bottle of your favorite beer
1 box (approximately 4 cups) brown sugar
2 cups dijon mustard

Mix together well.  Can be made ahead and refrigerated.

 

Classic Potato Salad

10 potatoes
1 red onion chopped
1 /2 whole stalk of celery
10 hard boiled eggs
Best Foods mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop potatoes in about 1 inch chucks.  Place in a pot and add just enough water to cover.   Add 1 tablespoon salt to water….(this sounds like a lot of salt but most of it is poured out when potatoes are drained).  Bring water to a boil and cook potatoes until just slightly underdone, about 3-4 minutes (you will be able to pierce with a fork but potato won’t be falling apart).  Drain and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, chop celery, including leaves of celery, and onion and place in a large mixing bowl.  Peel eggs and grate into the bowl.  Add cooled potatoes.  Start adding mayonnaise, a couple large spoonfuls to start and mix together.  Keep adding mayo until you have the desired consistency.  Stir in salt and pepper to taste.  It may take more than you would think but start by adding 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and then taste and continue adding until it tastes right.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  The potatoes will absorb the mayo as it continues to cool,  so if the salad seems too dry when you take it out of the refrigerator just add little more mayo.

Cole Slaw

1 head of green cabbage
1 bunch Italian parsley
1/2 whole stalk of celery
1 bunch green onions
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 cup Best Foods Mayonnaise
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice cabbage very thinly and then chop to shred.  Place in a large mixing bowl.  Chop parsley, celery and onions and add to cabbage.  In another bowl, mix together the mayo, mustard, vinegar and sugar.  Add to cabbage and stir well. Taste.  Add salt and pepper as necessary.

Deviled Eggs

Watermelon and Corn on the Cob

 

Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

The addition of buttermilk seems like an unlikely paring with the strawberries but the little bit of tartness and tangy flavor of the buttermilk actually brings out the sweetness of the strawberries and increases their flavor.

4 cups buttermilk
4 cups heavy cream
4 cups strawberries, cut into very small pieces
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Add 1 cup of the sugar to the cut up strawberries and mash with a potato masher.  Set aside for 5 minutes, stirring regularly to draw out the juice.  Separate eggs and whip egg whites until fairly stiff.  In another bowl, beat together 1 cup of sugar, salt and the yolks of the eggs until the mixture is thick and light yellow in color.  Add vanilla to yolk mixture and then mix in buttermilk and cream.  Stir well to mix.  Stir in strawberries and then add in whipped egg whites.

Mix well with a wire whisk.  Freeze in ice cream freezer according to the manufacturers directions.  The ice cream is best if you remove from the ice cream freezer when done and place in your refrigerator freezer for 1 hour to “ripen”.  It is a very satisfying finish to a very satisfying meal….enjoy!

 

In Memoriam


Today is the day we call Memorial Day.  For most Americans, it is the signal that summer is beginning.  It is a long weekend filled with gatherings at the beach or around a pool, cook outs in the park, and backyard barbeques with family and friends.   I am all in favor of barbeques and love any gathering that includes my family and friends. We will be having such a gathering today ourselves and I will happily share some yummy recipes with you at the end of this post. Sadly though, many people have no real recollection that this day was originally meant to be an observance of those who gave their lives in service to their country.
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On the Side

When you’re really hungry nothing is more satisfying than having a great meal you’ve been dreaming about.  A good meal can completely change your outlook on life and the world.  Sometimes, though I find that it is what is served on the side that really makes the meal.  Just like a great pair of shoes or just the right handbag can turn an otherwise ordinary outfit into something with real WOW!….a great side dish can do the same thing for a meal.
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A Little Bit of Paint Works Wonders

(We’ve added the video that should have been here earlier:)
Yes, we have done a lot of painting in our time!  On the walls, on furniture, on clothing, you name it, we have done it.  When we had our little shop called Chums, we were often out faux painting a customer’s walls in this way or that.
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Water Polo Salad


When one of our sons, Trevor, just before his high school freshman year came home and said, “I’m going out for water polo”, I answered, “What is water polo?”……….!

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Tablecloths – How to “Dress Up” Your Table

Just like a great dress on a woman stands out, so a great tablecloth on a table “speaks” as well.  Unless you have a really lovely table with beautiful legs or a handsome pedestal, a tablecloth is a very ‘good thing’ as Martha would say.  Most of us don’t have our grandmothers beautiful antique mahogany table and chairs in our dining room or something comparable  as an accent table in our living rooms or entryways.  But a table is a very practical piece of furniture to have in almost any room.  So if yours isn’t particularly beautiful on it’s own, you may want to think about “dressing it up” with a table cloth.
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Life Lessons on Prayer and Tuna Salad


It was largely at Nanner’s table as a child that I learned what is of worth to me now as an adult.  Nanner was my maternal grandmother, also my mentor, my guardian angel and my dearest childhood friend.  The lessons I learned were of love and life, forgiveness and repentance, hope and faith.  They were there for the taking among the frosty glasses of sweet tea, the creamy macaroni and cheese, the platters of crisp fried chicken and biscuits.   Sometimes I watched them played out before me like other children watched cartoons or Lassie.  Sometimes they just came forth in conversation between participants at the table.  And sometimes they were casually passed like the radishes and black-eyed peas and sweet cold slices of cantaloupe.  These were the life lessons that seemed to be doled out like an allowance might have been, but when seen, all in total, as an adult I recognize now they are a great inheritance.  I can’t help feeling it a privilege and an obligation to share them now with other people who were not as fortunate as I to have such a grandmother.  She was fond of reminding me “to whom much is given, much is required.”   So this recounting of her recipes for living (otherwise known as wisdom) and recipes for good food from my family’s table is my attempt at giving back from that with which I am so richly blessed.
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Savvy Secrets for Brides

We have put together a few Savvy Secrets for Brides but a lot of these pertain to anyone who is hosting an event.  Enjoy! Read more

Weddings – Expect The Unexpected


We have talked a lot this week about being sure to hold onto your joy throughout the weeks and months leading up to your wedding and today we are really stressing that point as, inevitably, some things will go “sideways”, as they say, and you want to be in a position, emotionally, to handle those moments well. Read more

Save This Very Important Date

 


Oh my goodness, you have decided to get married and are planning for that wonderful event to take place.  It might be months away, it might be two years away but the first thing you are going to want to do, especially if you have relatives and friends coming from all over the country and globe, is to send out “Save The Date” cards. Read more

Choosing Wisely ~ Making Choices To Suit Your Budget


Weddings these days can be huge affairs.  Yes, marriage is a very important step and deserves to be given a very important place.  Just because you cannot have a huge wedding, mind you, does not mean that you have a “small marriage”.  The important thing in a marriage, obviously, is the love that is shared between the husband and wife.  Money has nothing to do with that, clearly!

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The Joy of Weddings


Getting engaged, for most people, is synonymous with joy.  Everything about the occasion is joyous!  How he actually asked you, the beauty of your ring, the idea of planning a wedding, and on and on.  Oh, what an absolutely happy time it is and yes, it is really important to hold onto that joy. Read more

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of our Chums!  Whether you are a mother or not, we feel sure that you all have wonderful mothering qualities that you use to bless.

The Post you got this morning gives you a taste of what’s to come next week!

With love from you Two Chums.

 

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

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