Charcuterie Charm … the tips and how to’s of charcuterie arrangements

I hoped to be inspired by the view and listening to the birds tweedle-dee-dee’ing … however, just the opposite happened; clever words are much harder to conjure up when surrounded by such bliss.

~ by Trenda

Today a sweet neighbor slipped into our garden gate and left a beautiful bouquet of roses and a get well card on our table outside. That was the only invitation and incentive I needed to fill a vase for my posy, grab my computer, and sit outside to write. The roses left by the sweet neighbor and their perfume kept me company while dear Richard worked on our garage door pulley that had broken … the nerve of the pulley breaking on such a day! I hoped to be inspired by the view and listening to the birds tweedle-dee-dee’ing … however, just the opposite happened; clever words are much harder to conjure up when surrounded by such bliss. So away from the dreamy pondering’s and on to “strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff”

Earlier this spring, Richard and I were sitting outside and it was time to start thinking about dinner. I didn’t really feel like “fixing” anything and I was reluctant for our evening outside to end. I went inside and started rummaging around in our cabinets and refrigerator to see what I could put together that would be quick and easy, substantial enough for a meal, and convenient enough to carry outside to eat. Hmmm … I pulled crackers and pretzels from the cabinets … pickled okra and cheeses out of the refrigerator … one apple, some deli roast chicken … a little of this and that. Then, I got out a platter and started arranging “my collection of foods” so they looked appealing and appetizing. I was pleased how quickly and easily it all came together … a platter of finger foods, a thermos for hot tea, and voila … dinner was ready! A charming charcuterie platter, just the perfect thing for a beautiful spring evening outdoors!

Charcuterie (pronounced shar-cute-uh-ree) is a French word and in Miriam Webster’s time was … “a delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes.” Today, the trendy word charcuterie is a reference to any foods (appetizer’s, finger foods, or dessert’s) that are arranged on a cutting board or actual charcuterie board. The charcuterie boards available in the stores are vast and the selections range from elegant to rustic … marble slabs to knotty boards … and come in all shapes and sizes.

However, I love being enterprising and using items I already have. Platters, different sized chopping boards, and casserole dishes all work well for arranging and displaying charcuterie. Look in your kitchen and re-purpose items you already have for your own charcuterie display … any flat and “food safe” surface can be used. A 13 x 9 casserole dish makes an excellent base and helps keep accouterments in place. I use pretty, ruffly, “Loose Leaf Lettuce” to camouflage the sides of my casserole dish and the lettuce adds dimension to my charcuterie display. click here

Our Simple Charcuterie Platter

  1. Roasted chicken
  2. Pepperjack cheese
  3. American cheese
  4. Pickled okra
  5. Honeycrisp apple
  6. Stuffed peanut butter pretzels
  7. Wheat Thins crackers
  8. Zesty bread & butter pickles
  9. Pimiento cheese
  10. Celery

Charcuterie arrangement tips:

  • Roll or fold deli meats
  • Cube or cut cheeses into smaller squares
  • Cut fruits and vegetables into bite sized pieces
  • Arrange foods with contrasting colors and textures to compliment each other and make your charcuterie look more appetizing
  • Incorporate smaller dishes on your board or platter to create different heights and to add interest. Pictured Below … Crackers that tend to “spread out” and look messy on a platter I have contained in a miniature pedestal bowl. Now they stand upright, and look “fetching.” (: Another low oblong dish holds a mound of pimiento cheese. Celery sticks are on one side, ready for dipping while Zesty Bread & Butter pickles encircle the golden cheese. Small dishes are also a clever way to contain “wayward” foods … like my pickled okra! The okra, grouped together and standing upright in a glass creamer makes them look more appealing and urges in an “Alice in Wonderland” kind of way … “EAT ME!”

With my charcuterie platter ready, I gathered up a few more pieces of charm … an antique table runner trimmed in red, sprinkled with red daisy’s, and dear little cottages … a red plaid thermos to hold our tea … and tartan red napkins fit perfectly in our grand daughter’s miniature wicker picnic basket.

Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s flavor

William Cowper

Richard loved our impromptu dinner! The informality of the charcuterie platter added a subtle charm and carefree feeling to our al fresco dining that evening … and we stayed outside until the sun slipped away and tinged the sky and lake a beautiful pink.

More April “rambling’s” around our cottage

Encore Azaleas, Purple Iris, and Woodland Ferns in the rain … I went out while it was still dripping to take these pictures. The canopy of the trees shielded me for the most part, except when an occasional drop of rain would land on my shoulders … which only added to the loveliness.

Our Japanese Maple with a tiny birdbath I love tucked beneath it. Inscribed around the rim are the words, “His eye is on the sparrow.”

Our carefully cultivated moss-lined path and Japanese Maple almost glow in the light rain.

Easter was different this year since we couldn’t be with our kids and grand kids or have our traditional Family Hunt because of COVID – 19, but it was still a glorious day. “It was not about the bunny, it was about the LAMB.” After our Sunday Service on-line and Easter lunch, I made these decoupaged Easter Eggs using 2 different sets of napkins. “Let’s Go on an Easter Egg Hunt” by Meri Meri and Beatrix Potter’s dear little ducks, butterflies, pots, and pails alongside Peter Rabbit, and Jemima Puddle Duck look darling on these hard boiled eggs. It was a fun and sweet project on a reflective Easter afternoon.

This was just a forlorn and plain metal table that I covered with broken pieces of blue and white pottery. I love the look of the mossy enchantment and eclectic blend of the treasures I keep on this table. Shells gathered from the beaches of Texas, Florida, and Virginia … a collection of glass frogs that peep out of crevices … terra cotta planters with scrolls, frilly lines, and rusty iron rings … a bunny weather vane … and a little trough for thirsty birds inscribed with these words … “Life’s greatest treasures are life’s simplest pleasures.” A dear friend of our’s had a canvas of this picture made for me to hang in our greenhouse. ❤

Setting below the table a little Frog Prince can barely peep above the spring flush of Wandering Jew (Tradescantia Fluminensis). He clings to his crown trying carefully to balance the blue and white pottery ball that perches there.

Hope you enjoyed seeing spring around our cottage and you are ready to have fun, assembling your own charcuterie board!

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

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Between the Months of June and August … at the Lake

 It’s hard to believe it’s the end of August and our golden, lazy, summer days are waning.  Another summer filled with happy laughter, cannonball splashes. bobbing rafts, sunset boat rides, locust droning and warm breezes blowing against cooled bodies in wet bathing suits. 

~ Trenda

“Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.”   —Jenny Han

 It’s hard to believe it’s the end of August and our golden, lazy, summer days are waning.  Another summer filled with happy laughter, cannonball splashes. bobbing rafts, sunset boat rides, locust droning and warm breezes blowing against cooled bodies in wet bathing suits.  Here are some of the good and magical moments of our summer.

Days of boating …

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Feeding the geese and ducks …

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PaPa’s First Mate and Skipper …  This look on our little grandson’s face is priceless as he samples the duck food (pumpernickel bread) and tells me … “Grandma, this tastes yucky!” (: (: (:

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Days of floating …

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Precious lullaby moments …

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These white herons flew in from their day wandering’s to roost and “bed down” in the boughs of this tree for the night.

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Deer grazing on the green grasses beside the lake at twilight.

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Watching summer sunsets tinge the lake color to shades of pink and purple.

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There were summer “Cousin Days” and playing hide ‘n seek …

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Riding piggy-back …

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Riding skate boards … painting faces … climbing walls at the park … happy faces and happy hearts!  “Your cousin is your very first friend.”  

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Enjoying fun family tradition’s … Sand Pail Ice Cream!

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“PaPa and Grandma’s House … where cousins become best friends.”  This is what king size beds were made for … sleepover’s with my grand babies snuggled next to me and sweet, little hands patting and holding mine in the night.  

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All in all, it was a never to be forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going …                 ~L. M. Montgomery

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Summer slips away in a lilac sky.
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It was indeed “a good and magical time.”  Goodbye summer, we’re going to miss you!

From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

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Summer Boat Ride … plus Sweet & Salty Trail Mix Recipe

~ Trenda

At the top of our list of “summer chores” is getting our pontoon boat “sea worthy” and all cleaned up for the boating season.  Richard got out the power washer and surprisingly, only found 1 duck egg laying, like a prize on top of our boat cover! (:  After the cushions were sparkling and everything was wiped down, we loaded up the boat and headed “over the bounding main.” Climb aboard, put on your sunglasses and come with us!  We’ve got our Captain, First Mate (our darling grand daughter!) and myself … and we’ve got room for plenty more!  I’ve even packed a summer-y snack!  Let the wind blow through your hair and sweep your worries away for a little while!

 

 First stop … a protected cove where we can enjoy our snacks while “bobbing” gently on the water.  The warmth of the sun and the rocking motion of the boat dissuades any thoughts of worry!

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Look at my “new” picnic hamper!  I love it and found at one of our favorite antique shops!  I was thrilled when I saw it just waiting on the shelf for me!  I don’t think it’s ever been used!  It’s loaded with picnic style plates, cutlery, and plastic stemware and the bottom of the picnic basket is an insulated, zippered ice chest!

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I just had time to grab some quick “fix-in’s” before heading out to the boat.  A little wicker boat holds seasoned crackers for dipping into a creamy pimiento cheese spread.

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 I always love using my favorite wooden “Lake” serving board and it looks perfect for our lakeside picnic with a little oar spreader!

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A miniature creel fishing basket is filled with a Sweet & Salty Trail Mix Snack that is easy to “throw” together and is a great energy snack!  I tucked a tartan colored napkin in our little creel, then filled it with trail mix and added a fun scoop!

Sweet & Salty Trail Mix Snack:

  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup sunflower hearts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup cheese flavored “Whale” or “Fish” crackers (always a cute addition for lakeside snacks!)
  • 1 cup M&M’s

This recipe makes a big batch so I mix all my ingredients together in a large, air-tight container, to help keep it fresh.

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Okay, brush the crumbs from your lap, pick the seat you want to “lounge in” and settle back.  We’re taking off for some sight seeing!

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We love the rock jetty in front of this house!  The stone wall creates a private swimming area and the sandy beach beyond is strewn with grass covered umbrellas!

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Look at this massive labyrinth; it’s a homeowner’s private boat dock and party area!  If you look to the left and up the slight incline, there is another similar structure that is a playground for some lucky kids! (: 

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White Adirondack chairs are set out in anticipation of viewing beautiful summer sunsets!

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Charming stone boat house and little log cabin!

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Aww … I love his sweet smile and this picture I snapped of our cute Captain! ❤

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And … the darling First Mate with her sunshine-y smile that melts Grandma’s heart!

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The twilight shadows are changing from pinks to deep blues and purple and our flag almost glows in the fading light, as we head home.

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Another beautiful sunset on the lake.

Back home, the boat is docked and with picnic hamper and wet towels in hand, we disembark … and watch the beautiful twilight curtain descend upon the lake.  Hope you enjoyed our cruise! (:

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From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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A Sunday Drive in Autumn …… by Trenda at Cottage Green on the Lake

It was a beautiful autumn day here in East Texas.  The gray-blue clouds had been hiding the sun for most of the day and kept our temperature’s in the lower 70’s.  It was a perfect day for a Sunday drive … a Sunday golf cart drive!

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Lately, our lives have seemed more harried than usual and we were way overdue for some relaxation … “gazing and cruising, along the lake and the lane.”  Our only regulations for the day …

  1. to stop for any ducks crossing the road 
  2.  no speed over 20 miles per hour!piccollage

I grabbed all the essentials for a lazy Sunday drive … a jacket, a soft buffalo-checked blanket, and my vintage plaid picnic satchel – a favorite gift Richard surprised me with, reminiscent of my favorite lunch box and affection for anything in red plaid! (: (You’ll be seeing it, from “time to time” so I decided to add a full description here, for you to visualize!) The zippered picnic bag and contents were made by Aladdin in the 1970’s; the red plaid bag has two tall, red plaid thermos’ inside and a cherry red sandwich keeper. All had never been used and still had the original advertising tags when Richard gave it to me! 

I’d just made some chocolate chip cookies, so I wrapped up some of those (still warm from the oven!) grabbed our thermos’ and headed out the door.  Are you ready to go?  Let’s go together… “gazing and cruising, along the lake and the lane.” (:

Up the road we go and around the Pumpkin Patch …

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A neighbor’s house where … like the banner says, pumpkins, mums, and the people within, make everyone feel welcome!

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A lovely stone entry draped in autumn leaves …

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A scarecrow standing sentinel and greeting all, with the lake beckoning in the background …

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A lovely spot to “sit a spell” by the water …

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Grinning Jack-o-Lanterns line the curvy lane leading to this house.  We couldn’t help but smile back, as our cart whizzed by!

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Let’s stop here for a little while, enjoying our cookies and looking at this beautiful view of the lake from our peninsula.  We were thrilled when this flock of double-crested cormorants flew in chasing a school of minnows and decided to share our picnic spot!

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As the Cormorants swam away, we brushed the crumbs from our laps and headed our golf cart on up the peninsula road.  The lake is on either side of our road and can be seen in this gap between the trees …

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On further down the road, something you wouldn’t expect to see near the lake … this quaint little barnyard with llama’s, goats, and chickens.  These little goats are enjoying their evening meal …

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The owner scatters pumpkins about his charming barnyard and atop his fence posts …

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Rounding a corner we came upon this miniature lighthouse “guarding” the coastlines of our gentle lakeshores … I love the beautiful Fan Palm flourishing beside the lighthouse!

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Another sunset … (we can never resist!) and had to pull over to gaze at this gorgeous sight of the deepening shadows in the sky, as the sun slipped below the horizon …

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Last surprise of our tour, a little Tuscany at Cedar Creek Lake, a vineyard on the sloping bank leading to the waters …

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It’s getting chilly, for this Texas chic and the evening shadows are deepening.  Last bend in the road and time to head home …

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Did you enjoy our Sunday drive and our views along the lakeshore?  This is just the beginning of our “autumn show” here in Texas.  I love all the different sights, sounds, and smells associated with every season and look forward to sharing each with you … 4theseasons! (; 

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

Thank you so much for spending some time with me today!  I’d love to hear from you and I am truly delighted, reading what you have to say.  Please leave any questions you may have or comments, below.  Don’t be dismayed if you don’t see your comment “appear” right away.  Word Press checks everything I receive for SPAM and all have to be approved, before posting.

Along the lake shores on an autumn afternoon by Trenda

It was a glorious afternoon for cruising around the lake in our pontoon boat.  The water had just the slightest ripple from the autumn winds that would randomly “sigh” … just to playfully stir and rustle the leaves and the water. <!–more –>

Before we “set sail” we carried a picnic down to the dock and couldn’t help but marvel, once again, at God’s artistry as we gazed at the panoramic view of the beautiful, blue lake in front of us.

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Our lunch (always delicious when served … “a la dock!”) was Ham & Swiss cheese/spinach/& roasted red pepper wraps … homemade chicken soup … and crisp apples with a creamy dip of peanut butter and honey.

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Look at this spectacular show we were thrilled to have front seats for … dinner and a show!  These black, point-y beak “diving waterfowl” are Double-crested Cormorants and though some reside here permanently (choosing our lake to be their “forever home”) … most migrate here and arrive in large numbers in autumn to enjoy our delightfully mild winter’s!   Their departure in late spring always makes me a little despondent, so their arrival is always a welcome sight and another reminder of autumn’s return!  Yesterday, they swooped in unexpectedly, right in front of our dock, chasing a school of minnows and enjoying an “all you can eat” buffet!

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After we finished, we threw some saved tortilla pieces and brushed the crumbs from our laps into the water (to the delight of some waiting ducks!) and climbed aboard “Bentley”[yes, we name all our transportation conveyances! (; ] … adjusted our American flag, and backed up into the waiting blue.

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Our first stop was to visit our goose friends who immediately recognized our boat and eagerly came to greet us with friendly honks and flapping’s!

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As we threw each tidbit from our bread supply (a collection of heels, stale croissants, and an occasional half-eaten sweet roll we keep frozen for just this purpose!) our feathered friends rushed and fought to nab each morsel. They often over-stepped their neighbor’s personal zone and weren’t bothered a bit when they batted “their brother” in the face with their wings or greedily grabbed their portion. (:

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Shaking the last of our bread offerings into the lake, the geese honked their disproval … or was it their thanks? (: … when we headed out and away from their cove.

Sights along the shoreline…

The Loch Ness monster of Cedar Creek Lake …

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Towering Oaks and majestic Bald Cypress’ along the water’s edge …

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A gorgeous setting  for this white heron posing in front of burnished Bald Cypress Trees that are just beginning to show their tinges of autumn splendor.

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A mermaid, ready to dive into the waters below, appears mystical and believable in the magic twilight hour.

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 Heading back home in the pink and golden glow of an autumn sunset.

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“Then sings my soul …”

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From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

 

 

 

 

Autumn from the back deck … by Trenda

cropped-piccollage177597.pngIt’s been a beautiful week and as I went out on the back deck today, there was a coolness in the air that suddenly made me wish I had my sweater … a few golden leaves were floating, drifting on the lake … and autumn tinges could be seen, peeking from the trees.  The bright, golden sunlight, particular to this time of year, made the blue of the sky and the blue of the lake an intense background against the last green’s of the season. <!–more–>

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Our Beauty Berry Bush (aptly named!) is almost glowing in autumn and can be seen from our upper deck and was given to us, by a dear neighbor.  Our son planted it for me (in just the right spot!) next to our bonfire pit and near the lake, so we all enjoy it’s autumn brilliance while having wiener roasts and toasting marshmallows. It’s looks like a beautiful banquet spread and splayed out for the birds, with berries in a gorgeous shade of purple!  PicCollage.png

Right beneath our upper deck is a bed of hydrangea bushes, which bloom in early summer.  Now, in autumn they are putting on their “second act” and the “mopheads” have dried and the papery blossoms have transformed from all shades of blue, to a muted green; the blossoms are now perfect for clipping and “will be appearing” in autumn arrangements or tucked among fir boughs for their “final act.”

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My husband played in a golf tournament today and as the day slipped by and the outside beckoned, I decided to surprise him with an Autumn Afternoon Tea, on the deck. For our “tea party” I whipped up some Apple Cider Muffins with a Walnut Streusel Topping and brewed some spiced tea. The muffins were as delicious as they sound and I simply opened a ready-mix package of Martha White’s Apple Cider Muffin Mix, added some milk, and made them … “according to directions.”

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However, before putting the muffins in the oven I made a batch of streusel topping … a mixture of butter, flour, brown sugar, and walnuts and generously topped each muffin, instantly transforming my “mix” muffins into gourmet muffins, with very little trouble.  I’ve included the directions to my Brown Sugar and Walnut Streusel below.

Brown Sugar and Walnut Streusel

Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup cup flour

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup butter (melted)

Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and melted butter in a mixing bowl.  Top each muffin with a generous spoonful of streusel, keeping the amount added, below the top rim of the muffin pan.

Tip: This recipe makes more streusel than needed for 1 batch of muffins and I always put the remainder in a labeled Ziploc bag and keep it in my freezer … ready to add to any muffins or coffee cakes I make!

Then I had the fun of “decorating” the table outside for our Autumn Tea and began by spreading a dark green tablecloth, covered with pictures of seed packets and produce, over the table.  For the centerpiece, I filled a Marcrest antique pitcher that my mother gave me, with yellow broom weed.  Nestled below the pitcher I placed a little iron urn filled with millet and a wee little bird, who’s having his fill of bird seed!  I put the Apple Cider muffins on an autumn-colored plate decorated with leaves and topped the plate with one of my cloche’s … I love to collect! and to ward off any unwanted guests.  Incidentally, have you ever noticed how everything looks more delectable under a glass dome? (:                         I used a wire basket to hold our napkins and an old log planter that is one of my favorite antique finds that I use here in our cottage lake house … to hold sweeteners.                                                                                                                                                      By the way, my husband loved our Autumn Afternoon Tea and the muffins! (:

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This is the “twilight view” off our deck … same angle as those early morning pictures I took which were “bathed” in golden sunlight and in a background of blue sky and blue lake.  This evening, the setting sun has beautifully tinged the sky in shades of pink … the water, shades of purple.

piccollage “Splendor of ended day, floating and filling me!”  ~ Walt Whitman

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Thank you so much for spending some time with me today!  I’d love to hear from you and I am truly delighted, reading what you have to say.  Please leave a comment, below.

From my cottage to yours ~  Trenda