Friday, February 23, 2018

Foodie Fridays: Shrimp, Potato, Pea, and Cucumber Salad

I came up with this variation on potato salad back when I was still trying to use up frozen peas (mission finally accomplished, BTW!).  I made this on one of the rare warm winter days we had, but until recently the weather has been a little too cool for me to crave this sort of salad.  The month of February, though, has been mostly quite warm, so I am in the mood for salads and this one will be made again soon.

The first time I made this I simply boiled the shrimp, but next time I think I will roast them instead as roasting brings out more flavor.  I often use parsley paste instead of the fresh herb, but fresh parsley would be fine in this recipe.  While I eat this as a main dish, it could also be served as a hearty side dish instead.  I think I will be eating this salad as a meal often come summer!

Shrimp, Potato, Pea, and Cucumber Salad

24 oz. new potatoes, boiled
1 lb. raw shrimp, boiled or roasted and cooled
12 oz. frozen peas, thawed
1/2 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 C. sour cream
1 T. parsley paste*
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried dill*
1/2 tsp. salt
zest and juice of 1 lemon

 Cut the potatoes and shrimp into bite-sized pieces and combine with the peas and cucumber slices in a large bowl.  Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the potato mixture.  Toss until well combined.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving to let the flavors blend.  Serve at room temperature.  Serves 8.

*You can use fresh parsley and dill if you have them, and increase the amounts if you wish.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

This 'n That Thursdays: The Art of Keita Sagaki

 Artist Keita Sagaki (from Pinterest)

In addition to dogs, I seem to be obsessed with art lately.  Last week I mentioned the newly unveiled official portraits of the Obamas, and this week I discovered the unique art of Keita Sagaki.  This artist draws pen and ink recreations of famous artworks, but forms the images from numerous original tiny Japanese cartoon characters, many of the type known as manga.  The figures are woven together to form a replica of well-known paintings, and the intricate pattern is only noticeable when viewed up close.  One of the artist's best-known works is a rendition of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa:

From Scene360

Here is a closer look at some of the detail in the image:

From Scene360 (go to the source for a much larger image)

And below are a few more examples of Keita Sagaki's works:

Rendition of The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai
(from Scene360)

Detail from rendition of The Birth of Venus by Sandro Boticelli
(from Imgrum)

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
(from Spoon & Tamago)

As the last piece indicates, not all of Sagaki's creations are reproductions of old masterpieces.  He also draws likenesses of architecture and landscapes as well as original works, and has even participated in commercial ventures for companies like Expedia and Mercedes-Benz.  Sagaki's illustrations are so intricate that one could spend hours examining all of the detail.  The young artist's works have been exhibited in galleries and I think it is only a matter of time before he becomes more widely known.  I would love to see a collection of his works come to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta!  It would be wonderful to actually purchase one of his art pieces, but I am afraid it would be well beyond our means.  You can find out more about Keita Sagaki at his website here.  You can also listen to a rather robotic CNN report about the artist on the YouTube video below:

If you are fluent in Japanese you can watch an interview with the artist here (there is an English subtitles option, but the translation is not very good).  The artist himself has videos on YouTube showing details of two of his works (Two of Us and The Gestaltzerfall of Venus) which you can select to view here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wish List Wednesdays: Cute Canine Tea Cozies

From Bali Hotel Pearl

We have entered the Year of the Dog, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, and I am obsessing over all things dog-related, especially if a Dalmatian is involved!  I recently found a couple of cute dog-themed tea cozies on the Devotea website which I would be happy to own:

First up, of course, is the Seeing Spots Tea Cozy ($31.95 for medium), which seems to have been designed with me in mind!

I love the cute pups, including Dalmatians, on the Caffeinated Canines Tea Cozy ($27.95 for medium), and red is my favorite color.

Since I am also a horse lover, I couldn't resist including the fun Horse of Another Color Tea Cozy ($29.95 for medium) on my list of favorites - even though there are no dogs involved, every Dalmatian lover knows that this breed and horses were made for each other (Dalmatians were historically used as carriage or coach dogs)!

Even if you are not interested in dogs or horses, check out the Devotea website for dozens of different tea cozy designs, including other animals, florals, modern and old-fashioned prints, holiday designs, and many more.  The site also carries a variety of teas (I am going to have to try some of the Ashbys of London Teas soon), as well as teapots and other tea-related accessories (and they even carry coffee and kitchen items too)!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Weekend Wardrobe: Accessories for Thinking of Spring Basic 4x4 Wardrobe

Last week's 4x4 wardrobe in springtime colors could certainly use some accessories to liven up the two neutral colors, and I was able to find quite a few!  Let's get started with some jewelry:

Clockwise from top left: FiveofMine Small Turquoise Stud Earrings; Bling Jewelry Floral Coral Earrings; Featherstone Fine Jewelry Arabesque Coral Necklace; Southwest Silver Gallery Turquoise Bead Necklace.

On a more practical note, next up is the outerwear:

Clockwise from top left: Bedford Fair Belted Trench Coat in Light Taupe; Coldwater Creek All-Season Jacket in Rose Quartz; Chico's Mitered Quilt Kenta Vest in Rocky Mountain Taupe; Coldwater Creek Spring Forward Quilted Jacket in Sea Foam.

So many lovely scarves coordinate with this wardrobe that I had a hard time limiting the selections to just these seven:

Clockwise from top left: EndlesslyWild Aqua and Coral 2 Scarf; micklyn Though I Walk at Night Scarf; Silkyboo Luxury Crepe Chiffon Silk Scarf in Dark Coral Pink; Jules Smith Watercolor Modern Arts Print Scarf; Beam Me Home Bern Map Cotton Silk Scarf in Grey and Green; Davidoff Cashmere Silk Scarf in Taupe/Cream; Center: Jules Smith Modern Art Watercolor Scarf

Time to add a few handbags (and a belt) to the accessories collection:

Clockwise from top left: Hadaki Susan Crossbody Bag in Taupe; Coach Saddle 23 Shoulder Bag in Marine/Black Copper; Chesterfield Victoria Leather Tote Bag in Taupe; Hobo Vida Leather Wristlet in Coral; Weinman Minimal Jeans Belt in Taupe; Style & Co. Perrie Faux Leather Floral Print Tote.

And now to add some shoes as the final set of accessories:

Clockwise from top left: TOMS Jutti Flat in Desert Taupe Suede Diamond Emboss; TOMS Jutti Flat in Faded Rose Suede Diamond Emboss; Seychelles Lantern Bootie in Taupe; Bandolino Liberty Loafers in Misty Morning Blue Leather.


The weather here in Georgia has definitely turned springlike, so for me these fresh colors feel appropriate right now.  For those of you still enduring winter conditions, hopefully this collection brings a touch of spring to your day!  The change in weather is making me think about the color choices I make based upon cool versus warm temperatures, so this is the topic I plan to discuss next week.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Foodie Fridays: Cream Cheese Potato Soup

I have never eaten Panera's potato soup, but I recently found a recipe for Panera's Cream Cheese Potato Soup that sounded simple and tasty, so I decided to try it.  I substituted smoked paprika for the red pepper, as I am not a fan of the latter and am practically addicted to the former.  To keep the cream cheese from curdling, I added an extra step to the recipe by thoroughly mashing some of the cooked potatoes and stock with the cheese in a bowl.  Stir the mixture back into the pot and the soup will be smooth.  This basic recipe can be modified in any number of ways to create your own preferred version - go to the comments section of the original recipe if you need some inspiration.

This soup is very rich, so I strongly recommend serving it in smaller portions (cups rather than bowls).  It tastes just like creamy mashed potatoes in liquid form (which is really exactly what it is).  If the weather is still cold and blustery in your neck of the woods then this hearty dish will certainly keep you warm and well fed!

Cream Cheese Potato Soup

4 C. chicken stock (I always use unsalted)
4 C. cubed potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1/2 tsp. salt or seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp. red pepper (or smoked paprika)
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, cut into chunks

Combine the stock, potatoes, and seasonings in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

Put about two cups of the potatoes and stock into a medium bowl.  Add the cream cheese.  Mash and stir with a fork until smooth.  Stir the cream cheese mixture into the saucepan until well combined.  If you want a smooth and velvety soup, use an immersion blender briefly, but do not overdo it or the soup will become gluey (like over-mixed mashed potatoes).

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve topped with any of your favorite baked potato toppings if desired (sour cream, shredded cheese, bacon crumbles, and/or minced herbs such as parsley, chives, or dill would all work).  Serves 6.

Note: I used small yellow thin-skinned potatoes and left the peel on.  If you use unpeeled potatoes like I did, I recommend using an immersion blender to break up the peel into smaller bits, but again, do not over-blend or you will have a gluey soup.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

This 'n That Thursdays: Michelle and Barack Obama's Official Portraits

The Obamas and the artists with the National Gallery portraits
(from Time).

The official portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were unveiled at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery on Monday, February 12th.  The presidential portrayal was painted by noted artist Kehinde Wiley, and Amy Sherald created the painting of the first lady.  Both are African-American rising stars in the art world, and each has a unique and distinctive style much more modern than previous official portraits.

From The New York Times

I am more a fan of modern art than traditional art, and find myself drawn to both paintings.  I like the way that the two works, while quite different in style, seem to complement each other just the way their subjects do for each other.  I see a pairing of earth and sky in these canvases.  Wiley's creation captures the elegant but down-to-earth charm of President Obama, whose folksy but earnest and deliberate manner often reminds me of Jimmy Stewart.  Sherald's work depicts Mrs. Obama in a more relaxed and private mood than we usually get to see, still fashionable and lovely but with an ethereal look of calm strength that I think is one of her defining characteristics.  The two portraits will hang in different parts of the National Gallery, but I almost wish they could stay together, just like their subjects.

Art appreciation is very subjective and of course there has been criticism of both paintings, especially that of Michelle Obama as many do not think the portrait looks enough like her.  Exact physical likeness is not necessarily of primary importance in modern art, but as previous official portraits have been painted by conventional artists this deviation from the norm does not appeal to some.  I like the bold artist choices made by the Obamas, however, and hope to see these portraits in person some day.

If you have some time and would like to see the entire unveiling ceremony, watch the YouTube video below:


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

On the Homefront: Silver, White, and Pink Valentine's Day Table

Dalmatian Sweetie loves Valentine's Day!

I really wanted to set a pink table for Valentine's Day featuring my pink Dalmatian dessert plates, but could not for the life of me find any attractive pink table linens.  Instead, I opted for white napkins, placemats, and a table runner decorated with metallic silver that I found at HomeGoods.  I added the few pink accents I already own (a vase, a couple of votive candles, and lots of pink foil-wrapped candies) plus a couple of pink-accented Dalmatian toys, and kept everything else on the table silver or white.  Not the pink table I envisioned, but still it is a lovely and elegant setting for Valentine's Day!

White/silver metallic placemat (from HomeGoods recently); white dinner plate (Tivoli by Studio Nova); Dalmatian Dog-a-Day Dessert Plate (from Anthropologie last year); stainless steel flatware; white/silver metallic thread napkin (from HomeGoods recently); clear wine glass; clear water glass.

A bouquet of white hydrangeas in a pink vase may not be conventional,
but it is perfect for this table, especially when flanked by two little
Dalmatians with pink "love" hearts plus kissing Dalmatian salt
and pepper shakers.

A triple-tiered dessert stand offers up three different Valentine's Day
chocolates - Hershey Kisses on the bottom, Strawberries and Cream
 Lindt Lindor Truffles
 in the middle, and Dove Milk Chocolate Hearts
on the top.

A dog print teapot and Dalmatian mugs are set out for an after
dinner serving of tea (the box of tea behind the teapot is
Williamson Tea Black Tea with Berry Infusion).

I decided to add more pink to the table with the food served, starting with an appetizer of shrimp cocktail.  Some mayonnaise or tartar sauce stirred into the cocktail sauce will turn it a nice pink color.  Since my husband loves salmon and it is also a shade of pink, I chose a salmon recipe that we both love.  Unpeeled red-skinned new potatoes boiled and tossed with butter and dill look pinkish thanks to the peel, and a simple vegetable like steamed green beans provides some color contrast.  A dessert of creamy pink strawberry marshmallow pie ends the meal with the appropriate color, and a rosΓ© wine served with dinner also enhances the meal's color scheme.

Pink Valentine's Day Dinner:

RosΓ© Wine
Shrimp Cocktail
Buttered New Potatoes with Dill
Steamed Green Beans
Strawberry Marshmallow Pie*
Hot tea or coffee

*Strawberry Marshmallow Pie

1 prebaked pie crust*
24 marshmallows (regular size)
1 T. milk
1 bag (14-16 oz.) frozen strawberries, thawed, drained, and purΓ©ed
1 C. heavy whipping cream

In a medium saucepan, stir the marshmallows with the milk over low heat until the marshmallows are dissolved.  Remove from the heat, stir in the purΓ©ed strawberries, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Fold the whipped cream into the marshmallow mixture.  Spoon the filling into the pie shell and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.  Serve cold.  Serves 8.

*You can use any type of crust you like (almond, graham cracker, or even a chocolate cookie crust are good options), or you could eliminate the crust completely and divide the filling among individual serving dishes to serve it as a strawberry mousse.

So cute!


My husband is actually out of town for Valentine's Day so we will not be celebrating until Sunday, but at least my table is set and the menu is planned.  And this tablescape features enough of a dog theme that it can also serve as the setting for celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year on Friday, February 16th (2018 is the Year of the Dog).  I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's Day no matter when you celebrate!

From Zazzle