Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bring Out the Pretty Cups!

The other day I went to visit a dear old (or rather, long-term) friend. She is retired and has some time on her hands. Together, we lamented the fact that nobody in our part of the world ever gets together anymore, just for a simple coffee morning or anything at all, really, unless it is a properly scheduled family event. It has to be said that "our part of the world" is populated by very busy women in the sandwich generation, with large families and endless commitments. Most of them are working outside the home - as am I. Nobody has time to just relax quietly for an hour with a friend or two. "It's such a shame," we said to each other. 

That simple, unpretentious weekday socializing of a woman dropping by her friends in the neighborhood for a coffee or a lemonade, and a heart-to-heart or just some regular gabbing, seems to have all but vanished. Because it did exist once, didn't it? (Said in a trembling voice.) Maybe it still exists in smaller towns, where life goes at a humane - human - pace? I used to have it once, I think, and I miss it! Nostalgia! Must make more lemonade! I want my Rosebud... no, sorry, I'm rambling.

Then we went on to establish how it really doesn't take that much to get a little extra pleasure out of life. She reminded me of that time we had been sitting on her porch with our morning tea in the pretty cups, instead of the ordinary mugs. Ten years later, the image is still cherished in her memory! It has been said before, by many others, but that doesn't make it any less true originating from my keyboard: We must use the pretty cups more often!

Perhaps the pretty cups shouldn't be used every day, because I do believe in saving certain things for "special occasions" for otherwise, how could any occasion be marked as special? Then every day would again be the same, which is ultimately no good. We all know that unlimited ice cream every single day will erode the magic for even the most fanatic Häagen-Dasz devotee. Nevertheless, we should make more weekday moments count, and maybe we should make more occasions special too. Life is too short and too precious to be wasted on ordinary mugs.
My collection of Pretty Cups -
getting ready for the good times!

And here we are really touching on one of the main themes of this blog – the gilding of the everyday. Those little pretty moments that remain in our memories. The beauty in the midst of the mundane. 

Of course, one might argue that pretty cups – or any other equivalent in the material world – are largely irrelevant; that life is about higher, spiritual values. To that I would respond that it is not a question of either/or; we should aim to elevate our lives both in the spiritual and the material realms, and that if a bit of material beauty can bring some fleeting joy to your life – then it is worthwhile. And in the case of my friend above, that little spot of joy wasn’t fleeting at all! Perhaps I should stress, though, that I am speaking of beauty here – however that may look in the beholder’s eye – not of material accumulation for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses.

In fact, I’m not endorsing materialism at all – this is about the soul. Working with people, as I do, I frequently see how a little beauty can affect the spirit. One instance that will always stand out in my memory is the day I came to work dressed all in black, but with one big, blowsy, hot pink silk rose pinned to my scarf. An elderly client twinkled at me and said: “You will get your reward in Heaven for that rose – because it makes us smile!”

Therefore, let us guard and cherish the little things we can do to bring more color to an average Wednesday. Take the time to relax with a friend – if just for a half hour. Make your own lemonade from live lemons. Pin a rose to your scarf. Don’t routinely reach for the ordinary mugs – but let the pretty cups come out to play!

Regards from Rosebud!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pink Rose Princess Dessert

Hello, Viewers!
Last week I wrote about my love for pink roses, so today I'm following up with a Pink Rose Princess Dessert. This spring I made a flower-themed dinner party for my Flower Fairy Friends, and I came up with his dessert - a little upgrading of a great recipe that I've had in my repertoire for a couple of years. It is super-easy to make, yet looks quite impressive – delicious all year round, and of course particularly refreshing in the summer!

1 bag (1 lb) frozen strawberries (unsweetened, no syrup)
1 egg white (from extra-large eggs)
1/3 cup of sugar
  • Heave everything (strawberries straight from the freezer - do not thaw!), into a food processor fitted with the blade, and set it on high speed 
  • Go and relax and put your feet up for a while      
  • When you are relaxed enough, after 10-12 minutes or so, go back to the kitchen, where you will be greeted by a gorgeous, pink, fluffy mess - inside the processor bowl, if all has gone well!
  • Scrape the mess into a mold (more about the mold in a minute!) which has been rinsed out with cold water (but not dried)      
  • Place the mold in the freezer and relax some more, or even better – go to bed, and take it out the next day     
  • To unmold your strawberry ice, run the mold briefly under running hot water (don’t let the water get to the dessert!), then flip upside-down on your serving platter
  • To serve, garnish with pomegranate seeds and, if you wish, some pink tulle – see more about garnish below!       
Serves: 6 rose lovers

More About the Mold
Obviously you can use any mold that you have handy, but if you use a rose-shaped mold like I did, to get the full effect of this dessert, there is one thing to keep in mind: you want to make sure that the strawberry mixture fills up all the nooks and crannies of the mold, so that the shape comes out impeccably. Therefore, as you fill the mold, tap it firmly several times against the counter, so that the mixture sinks into all the crevices of the mold. 

(Image from
I used a silicone rose mold made by the Italian company Silikomart (which is a treasure trove for all bakers and candy makers), that I bought from amazon. The mold worked perfectly and I warmly recommend it! Besides, it is pleasingly pink. It comes in two sizes - mine is 7” in diameter, and is the perfect size for this recipe, but a bit small for most other things. (The larger size is approximately 9”.)

When I bought the mold I was unaware of the existence of the bigger size, so for this dinner party, when I made a larger batch, I used a regular round cake pan of the same diameter for the remainder of the mixture, froze the molds individually, and then stacked one on top of the other. Not perfect, but it worked!

More About the Garnish
To camouflage the joint between the pieces, I took a couple of yards of pink tulle ribbon (from a craft shop) and wrapped it loosely a few times around the dessert, finishing with a bow. I found that this added considerable glamour to the presentation, almost creating the look of spun sugar, but without the bother. I will certainly use tulle again in the future, even if I buy a bigger mold and will have nothing to hide. As is so often the case, a mishap can lead to a really great discovery!

The pomegranate seeds added a little extra color, flavor and texture – they turned out to be the perfect garnish, particularly since I had some leftovers that I put back in the freezer, where the seeds behaved themselves very well for several days.

I also happened to have an extra fresh rose that I stuck in the center, but that is by no means necessary.

And if you don't have the patience for all this folderol, just pour the strawberry mixture into any old bucket, shove it into the freezer, and then just devour it by the scoop. Works wonderfully well!

Good luck!

Regards from Rosebud!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

For the Love of Pink Roses

Hello, Viewers!
An urgent topic now begs for your undivided attention: PINK ROSES!
I know I am far from alone in my passion for these flowers – there is something so irresistibly sweet and sensual about them; something so timelessly romantic and restorative. Shape, color, texture, fragrance – I just can’t get enough of them; and they work equally well in paintings and photos, on fridge magnets, curtains and rubber boots. I have been under their spell for many years – in fact, if there is one thing all my friends know about me, it is my love for pink roses, in any shape or form. And my husband indulges me with live ones from time to time…

If you are already spending a moment on this blog you probably love them too, and you may want to join me on a little tour among some of the roses I have gathered over the years - from IKEA to Limoges... 

Above, an antique cake plate has ended up on an IKEA potholder - too pretty! 

To the right, and below, more from IKEA, one of my many favorite places to shop - even if nothing can really compare to a great flea market!

Some plant holders for the herbs I am trying to grow in front of my kitchen window (in spite of being severely challenged in the gardening department), perching on the window frame and on a stackable shelf, with three rosy tins for cookies & candy. The curtain is a kitchen towel, simply stuck to the window frame with thumb tacks. (And you thought IKEA was all about Scandinavian minimalism!)

These gorgeous silk roses can also be had by the dozen from IKEA - every time I go there, I buy a few. They just make me smile!
Above and below, two rather random ceramic tiles, made by ceramic artist Anna Carmi, one of my favorite artists. I bought them at different times, and they just hang on the window frame in my study in order to inspire!

The big plate happens to be Limoges, but that is really more of a coincidence - I don't collect according to what might be valuable, only according to what I find pretty (and am able to pay for!). The shapes and colors of these four plates, and how they harmonize with the wall color, make me happy when I look at them...

A pair of real cutie-pie rose-shaped salt & pepper shakers always add something extra to the table!

Below, the ultimate dream pot for a rose-loving tea drinker! I was lucky enough to find this tea set at Pier 1 Imports a couple of years ago.

Little pink roses on an umbrella (from Victorian Trading Company) that is so pretty it has to live in the bedroom. All right, there are some yellow roses there too, but I strive to be tolerant...

To the right, a small dime store "rose painting" that hangs in the living room. It is really a very cheap and low-class little print, borderline inadmissible (!), but I love the colors. Especially against the raspberry red wall!

The tray below is an antique, though (or at least very, very vintage), found at a flea market in Europe, and one of the relatively few things I brought with me when I moved to the US. The roses are made of some kind of shimmery foil, against a plain background. The tray is a little scuffed, but still very pretty!

And finally, another of the countless bouquets of pink silk roses that are sprinkled throughout my castle. I often wish I had a talent for gardening/plant maintenance - I love the idea of being an avid gardener and gathering roses in my wellingtons, or something... - but, alas, whatever I try, it ends in disappointment. That is why I love silk roses - they never disappoint!

I am sure you understand that this is only a fraction of the many roses to be found on the premises, but we have to start somewhere...

Welcome back to my castle another day!

Regards from Rosebud!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Introducing myself to the blogosphere!

Hello, Viewers!
For a couple of years now I have been toying with the idea of blogging, but have felt too intimidated both by technology and by self-doubts to try it. I'm still intimidated, but finally decided that I will take the plunge anyway. Better to risk a failure than to regret never having taken a chance!

I have many creative interests, including an obsession with interior decorating and party planning, so I thought I would try to make a blog of that, together with some of the other thoughts and ideas that flit through my head - thoughts of how to make life beautiful, and how to use the beauty for an elevated purpose. 

My second son often tells me that I have a special knack for "putting a gilt edge on the everyday existence" - does that expression work as well in English as in my native tongue? But you get the idea - just as we need to be able to see the silver lining of the cloud, so we can benefit greatly by being able to add a gleaming rim of gold to our everyday lives - creating beauty in the midst of the mundane.

So I'm very much hoping that this blog will provide some fun and inspiration for anyone who thinks like I do.

How I Named My Blog
When I met my husband on the internet a decade ago, I initially used the name Rosebud as a protective pseudonym and the name stuck. It was meant to express my devotion to beauty and romance - anything pretty and pink; my love for flowers - live of course, but also artificial, because I can make them last much longer(!); a certain playful girlishness, even in middle age; and, with an obvious reference to Citizen Kane, a measure of nostalgia for times past and some of the simple pleasures of life.

Could this be my dream castle?
(Image from
And the castle... Well, "My Home Is My Castle" - that adage I made mine already at the age of 19, when I created my first home, and that's how it has been ever since. I always felt that my home is my refuge, and with a certain need for privacy, I sometimes relish pulling up the drawbridge over the moat. 

Or is this the one...?
Then again, much of the fun is preparing for and having guests - whether it is a family gathering or a party for the Fairy Friends. I love spending time in my fairy tale castle (a tiny two bedroom rental), and I am obsessed - there is no other word for it! - with decorating and garnishing it, mostly on a shoe-string budget. (My husband is remarkably tolerant of the pink frills and fluff!) And that is where I will sit with my gilt-edged rosy tea cup and build dream castles in the air. 
Please join me - maybe we'll dream together...

Regards from Rosebud!