About dianeskitchentable

As a mother of 1 beautiful and understanding daughter and wife of 33 years to an often hungry husband I have finally given in to the fact that my house has a kitchen. Until recently I've always referred to it as "the spare room". I have never really enjoyed spending a lot of time in "the spare room" because meals were often done on the fly as I juggled my schedule while driving between Niki's school and her primary activity of competitive figure skating. I have always loved sewing and crafting. I also have found great enjoyment from enhancing and personalizing photographs. My daughter, Niki spent a semester abroad in Florence, Italy and my husband and I were thrilled to be able to join her for a too short vacation. Niki took hundreds of amazing photographs as she studied and traveled throughout Italy, France, England, and Monaco. So many were too beautiful to just paste in an album and they inspired me to play with them using mixed media techniques. After my daughter graduated college and moved into her own apartment, I often got calls late at night asking for various recipes. I decided to organize her favorite recipes and move from scraps of paper and my memory to finally getting them on the computer. One Christmas I stumbled upon a fun way to combine photo's with favorite recipes. I'd like to share these photos and recipes with you as well as offer a customized collection of your own photos and recipes which can be displayed in a box frame for wall display or organized in a recipe binder that can be passed on for generations to enjoy.

In My Kitchen – November 2015

I had such high hopes of doing more in my kitchen this past month but alas, just after getting rid of my crutches and the sprained ankle, I was opening a package with scissors.  TIP:  When using scissors to open packages, always cut away from you, not toward the hand holding the box.  The package won and I stabbed the web of my hand with one of the scissor blades and sliced the knuckle of my thumb with the other.   So another run to the emergency room and a half dozen stitches kept me from doing anything overly exciting in the kitchen.  But if you look outside my kitchen window early in the morning, you will usually see…


Wild turkeys…lots of wild turkeys… so many wild turkeys that I couldn’t get all of them in the same picture but I counted at least 50 of them.  Not a pretty sight at all because they’re truly one of the ugliest creatures ever invented and they make a terrible mess which the dog loves to roll in (why do dogs do that?).

However, something else outside my kitchen window is much prettier – fall foliage in New England.  This is one of our maple trees bursting with color.  IMG_2264

Sitting temporarily outside my kitchen window and no longer a part of the house is this trim board that I just have to show you.  We’ve been having some work done on the house to replace rotted wood and the carpenter removed this board from the front of the house only to realize that he had huge, angry bees swarming him.   I’d been going nuts every morning with this crazy woodpecker pecking away outside the bedroom window.  He was after the invaders – Carpenter Bees!  The bees drill holes into wood then build tunnels for their nests.  The woodpeckers then go after the eggs which makes much bigger holes until you have something that looks like this: IMG_2263

Here’s something you might not see everyday and also something I haven’t seen for about 20 years.  This has been up in my attic and I haven’t thought of it for ages (yes, really at least 20 years) until Mimi did a post about hers with a canape bread recipe.  Seems like she and I were both talked into going to a home party for Pampered Chefs – not sure if they’re even still around but I went because I was told that it was a ‘food demo’ and there’d be great treats to sample.  Of course it was a sales opportunity for the hostess and I ordered a few items.  By the time they were delivered, I’d completely forgotten what I ordered or what I was supposed to do with them … I’m pretty sure that I was impressed with it at the time because I seem to recall the woman shoving a roll of pastry dough inside and having a very cute loaf come out by the end of her demo.  So I bought it, never used it but Mimi just may have inspired me to go ahead and give it a try now that she’s given me  a recipe to use in it.IMG_2266

At the same Pampered Chef party I came home with this…it’s called a press and seal cutter.  I can’t even remember the demo on this one other than some sort of blackberry tart where you pressed the top and this gadget created cute little tarts, perfectly sealed.  Unfortunately when I dug this one out of the ‘what-have-you’ drawer, it seems that there’s supposed to be some sort of handle on top which of course is missing and defeats the purpose because this thing is now in 2 parts so that the ridged inner ring that supposed to seal the tart just falls out.  Who wants to take bets on the minute I throw this away (which I should), that I’ll find the little handle for the top?  How many of you have gadgets that you don’t use, never will use, or are broken just cluttering up a kitchen drawer (or two)?IMG_2267

As always, many thanks to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting the IMK posts every month.  I don’t know how she manages to keep it going for so long but I know I love to see the posts and look forward to seeing what everyone’s doing each month.  Thanks to Celia – check out her November IMK post as well as the other contributors.  

Beautiful Memories

Wedding Photography

Wedding Photography

I clearly remember saying that I was going to post wedding photos of my darling daughter, Niki and my much loved son-in-law, Tim.  I’m not sure why that was such a hard post to write because I had so many hundreds of beautiful photographs of that wonderful day.

Maybe it’s because I had so many images from the day to look at and sort through… so many that I could not stop staring at, remembering the precise moment and what was said at that time, and the emotions just would well up and start leaking from my eyes.

I can’t say enough about the fabulous wedding photographer who captured the beauty and emotions in that day.  And, I can’t chose which are my favorites because they all are unique moments in a day so filling with love and happiness.  Carly has such an eye and talent for using lighting and angles to compose the most beautiful photographic album that I’ll link to her blog so that you can share some of those moments with us:  http://www.carlymichelleblog.com/home/2015/8/31/the-crane-estate-ipswich-wedding-boston-wedding-photographer

I love digital photography.  You can snap away taking any number of photos not worrying about wasting film or the cost of developing.  You can crop and enhance making a photograph into a perfect portrait.  But I still spent a lot of time printing out so many of these photographs because for me, some things need to be held in my hands.  Those of my generation have great albums of special times in our lives but we also have shoe boxes full of loving memories, people who were part of our lives.  On rainy or snowy days I love opening those old shoe boxes and holding the images in my hands.  I feel as if I’m holding a loved one once again and the fading and wrinkles add a patina that grows more beautiful with age.  So, definitely embrace digital photography and be sure to have as many special photographs of important moments in your life – but print out special people and moments that you can hold in your hands and remember holding that person once again.

Wedding Photography

Wedding Photography

Wedding Photography

Wedding Photography

Wedding Photography

Wedding Photography

And, just as I was finally able to put words to (digital) paper, the videographer finalized the highlight film clip … and the minute I heard the music, the waterworks started all over again:
As you watch the video clip, you may not know the people but I hope that it might remind you of memories of your own and prompt you to find the shoebox of old photos or home movies that you haven’t thought about in ages.  Thanks for sharing our amazing day.

In My Kitchen – October 2015

It’s been quite a while since we’ve been in my kitchen (or that I’ve posted).  With the wedding planning  and the wedding itself, I needed some time to rest up from the weekend of festivities.  We’ve also been busy catching up on all the projects around the house that I let slide for the past few months…ok, possibly I’ve let a lot of things slide for the past year.   There’s plenty that I’ve got to do both inside and outside the house.  Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of wood rot on the trim as well as an infestation of carpenter bees who decided to drill nests inside our trim board.  Once the bees moved in, a very determined woodpecker started hammering away at the bee larvae so that made for quite a mess.

I’ll ease back into posting now that the wedding is over, our heat wave is finished, and we’re heading into more comfortable cooking weather.  I will be posting a photo blog of the wedding and reception – it was absolutely the best day.   I’ve been waiting to post the official wedding photos though since I consider them to be Niki and Tim’s story to tell and share first and I didn’t want to jump the gun – so those will be coming up in the next blog.

For now though I do have a few things to share in my kitchen.

My favorite – a beautiful tablecloth and napkins that Niki and Tim bought for us in Greece on their honeymoon.  I love the linen fabric and the design.


I’m sure any of you who follow our IMK Hostess, Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial have noticed how much she loves her Romertopf cookware.  Looking at prices starting at $50 and going up from there, I’ve been debating on whether or not I’d use one enough to invest in one.  My decision was made for me when I found this at the church fair.  Are you ready for how much I spent on this (Celia?)?


$1.00 – yes, ONE DOLLAR!  I figure even if I never use it during the coming year I can always donate it back to the church next year.

My final In My Kitchen (actually it’s more of a ‘Wherever Diane Goes’) are these…again, sigh…


They’re still nice and shiny from my hip surgery and came in handy when I slipped on an oil spill in the garage and sprained my ankle.  At least they were in the basement where I could easily grab them and get myself upstairs to wait for my husband to come home for a ride to the emergency room.  It’s not a bad sprain though and is already feeling pretty good – not ready for dancing yet, but soon.

As always, thank you to Celia for hosting the IMK monthly blogs.  She does a fantastic job keeping us all connected.  Be sure to stop by and say hi to her at http://figjamandlimecordial.com/2015/10/01/in-my-kitchen-october-2015/

In My Kitchen – June 2015

In my kitchen this month is success!  Last month I was having an anxiety attack trying to learn Photoshop to make the table numbers for the wedding reception using old photos of Niki and Tim with their ages corresponding to the table number.  A few days after buying some books and just starting to get the hang of things,  Apple decided to change their photo application and I lost access to all of the photos I had scanned.  I’m lucky that we now have an Apple store nearby and was able to get an appointment with a tech who did something to change back where my photos were being stored and finally got access again.  The results may not be perfect and need to be fine tuned, but they’re good enough to get by while I move on to other wedding projects.


And for my next project … making mercury glass vases.  The reception tables will have tablescapes with a variety of candles, flowers, and greenery and Niki was looking for that speckled, vintage look of gold mercury glass with a touch of silver peeking through.  After looking online for these and seeing the prices from $25 to $200 per vase, my daughter and I decided that we could turn this into a do it your/myself project.  I rummaged around in my supply of plain glass vases, bought some Krylon gold metallic and Looking Glass silver spray paint, found online instructions and waited for the temperature to warm up enough to spray outside – boy, this stuff is toxic and a face mask is highly recommended.


Viola!  mercury glass vases for about $1.00 a piece.


I also snuck in another birthday in May and my lovely daughter got me some of the cutest things.  Little tiny bud vases (no, not mercury glass – got enough of those now thank you very much).  All we need is a few days of sunshine and warm temperatures and I should have some new blooms to put in them.  Alas, right now we’re between blooms and a few days of heavy rain have stalled things.bud vasesShe also found these very cute measuring prep bowls.  What I love about them is that they’re the 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, and 1/4 cup size but also have a little pouring spout.  I love having prep bowls with everything measured out – fewer mistakes when I’m CWD (Cooking While Distracted).

prep bowls

Finally, when I was out shopping for my daughter’s Caphalon pots and pans (Crate & Barrel had a fantastic 40% off sale), I decided that I really needed one for myself.  The price was too good to pass up and I don’t have any like this with the ridges.


What’s happening in your kitchen this month?  As always, thanks go to Celia who graciously hosts the IMK every month for us.  Please stop by to say Hi to her at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  Take a stroll through the other posters kitchens and make some new friends.




In My Kitchen – May 2015

Remember the last time I talked to you, it looked like this outside my windows?


Well, we’ve gotten past that to something that looks like spring…



As soon as the daffodils bloomed, I was out there with my clippers to bring some spring into my kitchen.  It’s been a long wait but they bring a smile to my face.


IMG_1795Much has been going on in my kitchen these past couple of months but very little of it has been cooking, especially the creative type.  With my daughter’s wedding this August, I’ve taken over the center island for Wedding Central and started addressing invitations (I know it’s early, but at least I’m getting return addresses all set for the invites and the response cards).



Niki’s bridal shower is tomorrow and her lovely bridesmaids have got that completely under control.  I’m afraid that the UPS and FedEx drivers and our mailman hate me right now since a lot of the gifts are arriving daily from those who can’t attend the shower.  The first couple of packages started in my kitchen but I soon had to move everything to the dining room.  It looks like this…


I’m really enjoyed all of the wedding prep and have tried to keep up with all of your blogs but I’ve been immersed in a wedding project involving a computer (the new Mac), the scanner, and Adobe Photoshop…sigh…  I was so used to the Microsoft photo editing package.  My project is to scan photos of my daughter and her fiancé from ages 1 to about 18, then merge each age to one photo that will go on each table at the reception corresponding to their age.  You know – table 1 will be them at age 1, etc.

I started out thinking “I know how to photoshop pictures, of course I do”.  Hmm, there’s a little/lot more to Photoshop than meets the eye so I started with online tutorials using my iPad for the tutorial and the Mac to follow along.  Whoa…wait up Jack, slow things down a little – what did you just click on?  Since that wasn’t going so well I spent $30 on a book called Teach Yourself Visually.   That was a help but still left some gaps of the things I want to do with these photos.  Back to Barnes & Noble for a $50 book Photoshop 12 for Digital Photographers.  Now my island looks like this…

IMG_1796So you can see that I don’t have any room nor time for cooking but I’ll be getting back to all that at some point because I’ll be damned if Photoshop is going to beat me!  You might be thinking, “Well why don’t you just hire someone to do this for you?”  The answer is “because I’m stubborn as a mule so I’m not coming up for air until I figure all this out!”

In the meantime I am enjoying keeping up with your blogs although I am a little behind.  At least I can thank Celia for keeping me up to date with what’s going on in your kitchens this month.  Please swing by to say hi to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and take a look at her inspiring IMK post.

Winter Blues and The Blue Apron

My last post may have mentioned that we’ve been getting hammered this winter with blizzard after blizzard after blizzard – each dropping at least a foot of snow on us, followed by freeze your eyeballs solid cold.  Although I was born and raised in New England and I don’t think that I could ever live where there aren’t 4 seasons, I think we’ve had enough of the particular ‘season’.  With storms hitting us every other day it’s been hard to get out because the back roads are narrowed down to one lane.  I guess the best way to tell you about our winter is with pictures:

The day before this stop sign was completely buried – apparently the town went around clearing stop signs.stop sign

Who needs curtains?photo-9

You should have heard the noise when my husband got up on the ladder to knock these icicles down!photo-10

At least the front of the house gets sun & a little bit of melt

My husband’s daily exercise…

I’m guessing when this bird gets back from Florida, she’ll be putting in an insurance claim for damages for her roof leaking…IMG_1763

There is one who loves the snow – the Bernese Mountain Dog bobsled …

You would think that being housebound, my house would be sparkling clean – but frankly all I have is cabin fever and brain freeze.  I’ve taken advantage of an awesome Christmas gift from my daughter for a delivery from The Blue Apron.  The Blue Apron is a great service that delivers all of the ingredients – everything that you need to make a great meal.  They plan the meal, package all of the ingredients which are pre-measured, and deliver to your front door.  When I say they include all of the ingredients, it includes everything except the pans and a little olive oil or butter for cooking.

My three meal choices for this delivery were Orange Beef Lo Mein, Shrimp Po’ Boys, and Chicken & Sage Biscuit Pot Pie.  I started with the Lo Mein which is something that I never would have tried on my own since I would have no idea what half the ingredients were.  However, they include very detailed instructions – some would say foolproof but I proved them wrong. 



The result was really good although I made the mistake of forgetting to add the spice blend while cooking the meat so it didn’t really absorb and made for a very strong flavor.  I think I did a pretty good job of recreating this dish to look like their example.

Now, for the next meal we decided to try the Shrimp Po’ Boys which is where I really blew the instructions.  They gave us butter lettuce – some to put in the sandwich rolls and the rest for a salad with vinaigrette dressing.  There was a package for the remoulade sauce to top the shrimp in the Po’ Boys and a package for the vinaigrette dressing for the salad.  The instructions CLEARLY showed two bowls – one for the remoulade and another for the vinaigrette.  Back to that brain freeze I’ve had this winter…I dumped all of the ingredients together so we had a very um, tangy remoulade sauce.  Surprisingly it was still very good but I may have growled at my husband when he started laughing and said “huh, wonder what this was supposed to taste like”.

So tonight I’ll be making the Chicken and Sage Biscuit Pot Pie and I’m going to concentrate and really pay attention to the instructions – this one I’m going to get right.  But, if The Blue Apron is looking for anyone to test out their instructions they can give me a call to check for fool-proof-ness.

In My Kitchen – February 2015

How many of you remember that little jingle from elementary school that helped you  remember how many days in each month?

“30 days hath September, April, June and November,
All the rest have 31,
Except January and February in New England which have 61″

Ok, I’ve changed it up a little to reflect winter in New England and it may have something to do with the 2 feet of snow from last week’s blizzard and the 1 extra foot of snow predicted for tomorrow.  Unless you are an avid skier or snow mobile enthusiast, a lot of us do spend more time in the kitchen in the winter cooking warming, comfort food – like soups and stews.  That’s my plan except for one thing –

HELP – I don’t know beans about beans, so would all you bean friends tell me what I’m supposed to do.  I’ve got this really pretty bag of beans with a stew recipe which my daughter gave me for Christmas.
IMG_1722I think they’re pretty enough to just put in a dish for decorations but I really have plans to make the stew.  There’s a wonderful farmhouse stew recipe on the attached card but I’m stumped at Step 1 which says:  Rinse, drain, and pick over beans.

Help me out here bean gurus, what am I supposed to be looking for as I “pick over” these beans?  Is it like mussels where I’m supposed to discard the dead ones?  How do I know a dead bean by looking at it?  I’ve opened the bags and none appear to be jumping around or breathing so they all look pretty dead to me.  Maybe it’s a matter of taking out any that float belly up.  Any suggestions regarding bean ‘picking over’ are greatly appreciated.

Once I get the beans figured out and the farmhouse stew going, I plan to make these biscuits – another thoughtful gift from Niki (isn’t she great to try to streamline my cooking time?IMG_1723

I also have this adorable mini whisk from Tim, Niki’s fiancé.  I’ve put it beside my regular size whisk so you can get an idea of the size.  I’m not sure if I want to gunk it up with anything or make a cute decoration for next year’s Christmas tree.  Some of my favorite ornaments are related to my hobbies and I think this could be very cute with a bow.
IMG_1724Finally, finally, I’ve waited out my husband and after a year, got the counter chairs that I’ve been hoping for from Restoration Hardware.  I found these last year when they were on sale but my husband was against buying them without giving them an are test.  There aren’t any Restoration Hardware stores nearby where he could test drive them so I decided to wait him out.  It worked, I let him go looking all last year for counter chairs and he couldn’t come up with anything even close to the quality and sale price on these.  As soon as I saw the sale come up, I gave him one last chance and he caved in…and they’re very comfortable.

Now I’ve mentioned our latest blizzard in Massachusetts.  I don’t think it was as bad as some (since we didn’t lose power & that’s the true test of a storm around here).  Although we’ve now got a generator in case of power failure, you can’t run the entire house on it and have to select the most important things to keep running – like HEAT, water,  and the refrigerator.  So if power goes out during one of these storms, my stove moves outdoors to this:

IMG_1702You just have to brush the snow off after you shovel a path … yes, that’s the grill under there.

What’s happening in your kitchen this month?  As always, thanks to Celia at Fig Jam and cordials  for hosting the IMK posts.  Swing by to say hi and check out other kitchens around the world.  In the meantime, make sure to smile and enjoy whatever life drops on you….