Friday, September 28, 2012

Butterscotch Apple Cones

My sister, Jennifer, and I agreed that these butterscotch apple cones were our favorite appetizer served at Saturday's Hospitali-Tea at the Smyrna, Tenn., Church of Christ. Aren't these adorable? We loved the presentation and couldn't wait to sample the different apples inside. When we started eating, we were delighted to discover a sweet surprise: The cones were coated inside with butterscotch! We couldn't decide if the caterer brushed melted butterscotch chips inside the cones or if she drizzled Smucker's Magic Shell Caramel Flavor Topping inside. Whatever her secret, these apple cones were perfect for fall!

Congratulations to Nancy Carr, who won a copy of the latest cookbook from our friends at Taste of Home. This cookbook features nearly 1500 recipes from home cooks around the country. Get your copy at the link below.

Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Enjoying the Hospitali-TEA in Smyrna

The Smyrna, Tenn., Church of Christ welcomed me over the weekend for the congregation's biannual Hospitali-TEA. Months ago when I told Joe I had been invited to speak, he said yes as soon as he heard the name of the event.

The Smyrna Church of Christ hosts a successful ladies retreat, but several years ago the women decided they wanted to plan an event that would accommodate those who could not get away for an entire weekend. They wanted attendees to enjoy the fellowship and refreshment the retreat provides, without leaving town. So the Hospitali-TEA was born, and the two events rotate from year to year. 

For the Hospitali-TEA, ladies of the congregation decorate tables in the fellowship hall for a catered dinner and guest speaker. Before the doors open for the big reveal, ladies congregate in the lobby to visit and enjoy appetizers. This year's theme was "God's Garden." Each table was decorated with a different flower.

I admired the creativity and attention to detail reflected in all the tables. Check out the wooden chargers cut by the tablescaper's husband on the violet table above.

This lovely lavender table reflects the tablescaper's roots in Washington state. In fact, she dressed her table in bundles from a favorite lavender field from back home.

Guests were eager to visit the Star of Bethlehem table to view the flowers shipped in from Columbia for the event. Many women remarked that they have never seen Star of Bethlehem blooms in real life.

Tables ranged from casual to formal, but each one reflected the personality of the lady who decorated it.

This daisy table has country flair.

Tablescapers incorporated party favors for the ladies who sat at their tables into their place settings.

When the ladies checked in to the Hospitali-TEA, they were assigned seats. Ladies were seated with guests they brought, but coordinators wanted to fill all the tables equally and help the ladies mingle.

Guests at the morning glory table received a lovely botanical print.

I chatted with the tablescaper who decorated the sunflower table. As a new member, she said planning her table helped her feel a part of the congregation.

I thoroughly enjoyed speaking for this event. Ladies eagerly anticipate the Hospitali-TEA, and it grows by leaps and bounds each time it rolls around. Thank you to the Smyrna Church of Christ for giving me such a warm welcome!

Tomorrow, a clever appetizer served at the Hospitali-TEA.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tea Timing

I am putting all my pumpkins in one basket this weekend for a trip to Tennessee. Or maybe it's actually all my roses in one pumpkin basket. This fall arrangement is a hostess gift for my sister.

I found this cute basket at Michael's. I picked up a couple more for teacher lunches, so I will share details of that upcoming seasonal surprise later. For Jennifer's hostess gift, I soaked floral foam and slipped it into a disposable plastic bowl. Then I clipped roses and slipped the short stems into the foam. A little greenery from my yard finishes off this pretty pumpkin.

A speaking engagement has me travelling to Middle Tennessee, and Saturday night's "Hospitali-TEA" with the Smyrna Church of Christ gives me the opportunity to spend the weekend with Jennifer. We plan to work in some much-needed sister time with a trip to a Nashville tea room. So I will actually be tea timing this weekend with two tea parties on Saturday. My cup overflows!

This special weekend comes at a significant time, as our family marks the two-year anniversary of our mother's death. She loved us so much, and we miss her every day. Her heart swelled whenever she knew family gathered, even if she was not able to attend. I think she would find delight in hearing about my weekend, knowing that in addition to my overnight stay with my sister, I plan to work in visits to both my aunt and my father as well. I will share details next week!

Congratulations to mother of five and blogger Southern, who won last week's giveaway of a library of books by Julie Klassen. Be sure to check out this post to get your name in the teacup for a copy of Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes & A Cookbook Giveaway

A unique mix of pineapple and pumpkin creates a cupcake with mouthwatering flavor. This recipe by Mary Relyea of Canastota, N.Y., is one of nearly 1,500 in the latest cookbook from Taste of Home.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Excerpted with permission from Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes.

Yield: 16 cupcakes
Prep: 30 min.
Bake: 20 min. + cooling

2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
¾ cup maple syrup
½ cup 2% milk
1-½ cups all-purpose flour
1-¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
1-½ cups confectioners sugar

In a large bowl, beat shortening until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition (mixture will appear curdled). Beat in syrup and milk. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, ginger and allspice; add to shortening mixture and beat just until moistened. Stir in pumpkin and pineapple. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to a wire rack to cool completely. For frosting, in a small bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add confectioners sugar; beat until smooth. Frost cupcakes.


Taste of Home is the leading name in easy, affordable home cooking. This new comprehensive cookbook is sure to become one of your favorites with tried-and-true favorites from many years of Taste of Home.

Leave a comment below to enter a giveaway for Best Loved Recipes -- and add an extra if you follow A Little Loveliness on Facebook, on my sidebar or through e-mail subscription. (Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.) I will announce the winner next week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pumpkin Palooza

"What calls back the past, like the rich pumpkin pie?" ~ John Greenleaf Whittier

Our Alabama weather may say summer, but today I am thinking fall.  Favorite decorations are spilling from the cupboards, and I am mulling over favorite harvest recipes. Tis the season for pumpkins, so I'm rounding up past pumpkin posts. It's a Pumpkin Palooza here on A Little Loveliness, so let's take a stroll through pumpkin patches past.

I can't believe three years have passed since "CinderEmma" visited the pumpkin patch for preschool fun.

Her coach didn't turn into a pumpkin, but there were plenty of pumpkins on hand for picking, peeking and pecking.

While Emma picked pumpkins, pumpkin picks added a festive touch to lunch baskets for teachers. Find details and recipes here.

Pumpkins added a touch of fall to our Thanksgiving table last year.

We hosted my family for the holiday, and perfectly-placed pumpkins filled vases, spilled out of bowls and marked each place at the table. A few pumpkins have rolled into recipes on A Little Loveliness over the years, too. 

Find my grandmother's pumpkin roll recipe here.

Warm up with a bowl of velvety pumpkin soup here.

And enjoy pumpkin cookies with browned-butter icing -- the perfect complement to a cup of tea here.

Pumpkin muffins are perfect for nibbling at a little ladies lunch.

Or tuck them in to a baket laden with lunchtime treats for a pair of favorite fourth-grade teachers. Find this to-go box here.

Greet a crisp, cool morning with a cup of spiced pumpkin latte here.

Or sit in the autumn afternoon sun with a refreshing pumpkin sundae.

This favorite cheese ball made an appearance at a fall party disguised as a pumpkin.

And these sticky pumpkin treats were perfect for greeting a preschool class for a lunchtime play date.


What is your favorite way to greet the season with pumpkins? Be sure to enter for a complete library of Julie Klaussen books here before this giveaway turns into a pumpkin. 

"Oh how we love pumpkin season. You did know this gourd-ish squash has its own season, right? Winter, Spring, Summer, Pumpkin. ... We anxiously anticipate it every year." ~ Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer

Friday, September 14, 2012

Julie Klassen Library Giveaway

The culmination of our week of English countryside dreaming is a generous giveaway from Bethany House Publishers. Author Julie Klassen proclaims, "If you love romance, English accents, Jane Eyre, or anything by Jane Austen, then you and I are soul sisters and I write for you!" Viewers who swoon over BBC period dramas like Downton Abbey and Lark Rise to Candleford are sure to love Klassen's English Regency novels.

I have read all five of Klassen's books, and they are a delight. I was eager to read her latest release, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, as soon as it came out, but some books need to be savored. So I set it aside for a romantic anniversary trip to The Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Ala. I tucked it in my bag when I set out for a morning at The Grand's luxurious European spa and first opened the book in the flickering candlelight of the spa's Quiet Room. I continued reading that afternoon on the beach, my toes brushing against the sand as sunlight streamed over Mobile Bay. And finally, after a delicious dinner of fresh seafood and a moonlight stroll through the hotel grounds, I settled in to read just a few more chapters in my hotel room before drifting off to sleep.

When I returned home, I was eager to finish the book, but discovered I had left it behind. It was such an engaging read that I promptly ordered a second copy. And although I began the book in an idyllic setting where I was a lady of leisure, I think I enjoyed it even more when I returned home and resumed my responsibilities as a wife and mother. That's the beauty of a book worth reading.

Bethany House has graciously offered one reader of A Little Loveliness a complete library of Julie Klassen's works. Take a look at the glowing reviews of her books, and I don't know how you will decide which one to read first.

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall

"Christy winner Klassen mines another gem of a story from the rich Regency vein. In a tale of disguise and transformation with echoes of The Prince and the Pauper...Margaret's character and judgment are enriched as she works for a living. The upstairs-downstairs dynamic of the upper and serving classes puts meat on the story's bones. The reliable Klassen has produced a well-realized genre winner in which Christian elements are subtle and historically appropriate."

~ Publishers Weekly

The Girl in the Gatehouse

"This book has scandal, mystery, secrets and a budding romance. The characters are written in such detail the reader will forget they are fictional! Klassen has outdone herself with this latest novel. Her writing is comparable to Jane Austen's. She writes with passion and readers will not be able to put this book down."

~ Romantic Times

The Apothecary's Daughter

"Klassen blends her tale well; each ingredient—romance, friendship, healing arts, mystery—is measured to produce a lively, lengthy tale that will satisfy Regency aficionados and general readers, too."

~ Publishers Weekly

The Silent Governess

"This is an inspired and well-told story of mystery, intrigue and the politics of upstairs and downstairs folk in 19th-century England. The author takes the reader back in time effortlessly. If you enjoy Jane Austen or the Regency period, you will love this book."

~ Romantic Times

Lady of Milkweed Manor

"Twenty-year-old Charlotte Lamb is the daughter of a heartless English vicar, as we discover when she becomes pregnant and he throws her out of her childhood home. Vulnerable and unprotected, she is forced to a lodging place for unwed mothers. Soon, Lamb must make decisions involving true love and sacrifice, providing many powerful turning points throughout the story. "

~ Publishers Weekly

You have three opportunities to enter this giveaway for a set of five Julie Klassen books. Please leave a separate comment for each here or on my Facebook page. I plan to announce the winner next week.

(1) Leave a comment telling me about your favorite English author, book or costume drama.
(2) "Like" the A Little Loveliness blog page on Facebook.
(3) "Like" Julie Klassen's author page on Facebook.

Have a blessed weekend!

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