Vicki’s First Blog

Hello Everyone! Take a look at my first blog!

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I’ve been in love with dishes since my Aunt Louise gave me my first tea set when I was six years old. I still have it as well as 20 to30 other sets of dishes that I’ve been collecting over the years. Most are antique sets. I love knowing that these dishes have graces the tables of generations of families. I keep that tradition going by using all my dishes as often as possible. I don’t believe in putting them away and saving them for special occasions.

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Three years ago I planted wisteria vines from Charleston, South Carolina on my backyard pergola. This spring the vines exploded with thousands of magnificent purple flower clusters. The view on the patio was too stunning for just my husband, Chris and I to enjoy alone. It had to be shared. It also inspired me to bring out one of my favorite sets of dishes.

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an antique English china set that I bought at the antique market 10 years ago. They feature wisteria blooms and a gentle fluted edging. Great weather, a beautiful setting and the perfect dishes prompted me to host a Sunday afternoon luncheon for some of my favorite girlfriends.

I sent off an E-vite. (If you haven’t used these yet…..check out our tip of the week.)

I couldn’t resist setting a dress code…”show-up sporting your favorite spring hat!” Of course if you knew my friends then you’d know they are going to show up in some pretty crazy bonnets. But that’s what makes them so much fun.

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I love to give parties but I don’t have time to spend hours cooking. So I made it easy on myself and asked everyone to bring a summer dish to share. I made gazpacho. Which worked out perfect since this set of dishes had matching bowls. Remember it’s all about the dishes!!

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Here’s the recipe it turned out great! (I added hot sauce to the leftovers and served it with chips the next day)

Ingredients

  • 1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not over process!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

My friends’ food was equally as impressive. As always, there was way to much! But there is always room for desert. I kept that simple, light and airy just like the weather, lemon sherbet serviced in antique cocktail glasses with a touch of mint from my garden. See this weeks tip on other great uses for mint!

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The party started at 2:00pm and everyone brought a great bottle of wine. We had a great time just eating, laughing, drinking and enjoying the party until way after dark.

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It was a wonderful way to kick off the season and share time together. You don’t have to have great dishes or blooming wisteria to inspire a party. Your girlfriends are reason enough!

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Vicki Payne
Vicki Payne is a nationally recognized designer, home improvement, gardening and decorating expert. Each week, for over 15 years, millions of viewers both nationally and internationally have tuned in to watch her popular television show, For Your Home.

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