Thanks to those of you who weighed in on whether or not to purge the polka dot set from my last post! The best advice I got was to keep the plates since they don’t take up as much storage room as the bowls and cups, which I don’t really like anyway. Duh! I don’t know why I didn’t think of it like that. However, that is not the decision I ended up making. Are you ready? OK, wait for it….the decision is… drum roll, please…
PURGE! Why? Remember storage space is not the only factor in my decision…how much I use them is also important. I actually don’t even remember ever using this set on a table, and if I did, I did not use all of it. I can’t justify keeping something that I never use. The final factor in my decision was a business one. Although selling the bowls and cups made sense, I also have to look at how well they will sell at my booth. I think that this set will sell better if it is complete. Of course, I am not always correct in what I think will sell at the flea market, so time will tell if I am right. Therefore, the set is there in its entirety and I put a reasonable price on it. Also, a few of the plastic items that I told you about last week have sold and I am hoping that the rest go quickly.
On to the tablescape. I started with a couple of things in mind: first, to use my wedding china since I haven’t used it lately; second, butterflies as a recurring theme to play up the butterfly in the pattern of the china.
I have several soft colors of napkins that look good with these plates. Today I chose these pastel yellow ones and placed them in between the dinner and the salad plate. My Dollar General flatware in green echos the color in the plate design.
I tried a couple of different glasses and finally settled on the Dollar Tree stemware. Of course, my Dollar General butterfly planter with its green edge was the first thing I thought of when I decided on butterflies.
Then I thought of something. Last winter I bought a few things from a booth that was going out of business that I thought may be cute in tablescapes, one of them being this string of butterfly lights.Well, they don’t look like much in my photo, but they are much cuter in person. I also got a string of dragonfly lights. I can’t remember if I paid $2 each or $2 for both; either way, I was pleased with the deal. The box said that this strand was originally $7.
To further the butterfly theme, I went through all of my spring and summer décor and pulled out butterfly items. I’m pretty sure that all of these things came from Dollar General. I have several of these cute buckets but am only using the butterfly ones today, obviously.
I only purchased 2 of these for some odd reason, one butterfly and one dragonfly. Hope I can find a couple of more this season.
I decided to use my striped green candle to go with the greens on my Dollar General candlestick.
I was left with one pesky problem…what to do with that battery pack on the lights.
The answer: more butterflies, of course! I had one more butterfly item left, and the pack fit perfectly in that little flower pot.
So that the pot won’t look too awkward, I pulled out the other flower pots and put them on the other corners of the table.
I thought that all of these items needed to be elevated, so I used various candleholders to do the job. I am pleased with the final look and plan to take a photo of it after dark. Hopefully, the lights will show up better and you can get a better idea.
Since I retired a few years ago, I have enjoyed occasionally trying new recipes that I find in magazines or on the internet. A few months ago, I tried a recipe that I found online for something called baked spaghetti cream cheese casserole. If you google it, you will find a million different variations of it. I like it because it uses jarred pasta sauce and spaghetti, two items that I almost always have on hand.
Even though we liked it, I decided that I wanted to elevate it a little bit and make it a bit more adult for us. Therefore, I replaced the ground beef with 1 pound of Italian sausage.
I also replaced the spaghetti with a 12-ounce box of vegetable rotini. Supposedly, the pasta is made from 2 servings of vegetables. Whatever the case, it does make us feel like we’re eating a little better, even if we’re not!
I always use whatever jarred sauce I have on hand. Today it was Ragu.
I also simplified the instructions a little bit. I put out the cream cheese in a large bowl to soften a little while before I started the recipe. Then I browned the Italian sausage while I boiled the pasta according to the package instructions. I dumped the sausage on top of the cream cheese and let it sit a few minutes while I measured the pasta sauce into a large measuring cup.
Then I put the cup into the microwave and heated it for a minute or two. Then I dumped it on top of the other ingredients. By then my pasta was ready, and I drained it and added it to the large bowl. I stirred and stirred for several minutes until the cream cheese softened completely and blended into the other ingredients. Then I added a few extra spices; I like to do this when I serve jarred sauce to pep it up a bit. Today I added some garlic, some basil, and a little Italian seasoning. Really, any Italian spice you have works.
Then I dumped it all into the large casserole dish and spread it all out evenly. I topped the casserole with Italian cheese and baked it for about 30-35 minutes at 350. I added a small salad, and we had a delicious lunch! I like the casserole better with my substitutions and it better suits the two of us. While we are on the subject of cooking, groceries in my part of the world have gone out of sight lately. It is getting harder and harder to serve the two of us on a budget. I actually don’t mind using store brand on most items, but I had purchased the Ragu sauce when it was on sale which is why I used it today.
By the way, the first time that I tweaked this recipe, I used Publix brand pasta sauce and it was really good. However, I don’t have a Publix near me (I had gotten it when I was visiting my son), so that is the reason for the name brand. I actually do like the store brand of pasta, but I have only found the veggie kind in the Barilla brand, so I spent a little extra on it. Hopefully, some of the store brands will start making this same type of pasta.
I do occasionally purchase the good Parmesan cheese, but today I did not have it and did not see the need in purchasing it for this dish. The store brand of Italian cheese was what I had on hand, and it was great on this casserole. I used it liberally, and we loved it. I spent a little extra on a couple of items for our salad. After eating tomatoes from the grocery store the last few months, I was so glad when the produce market reopened after the winter a couple of weeks ago. The extra $ spent on farm-fresh tomatoes is well worth it, in my opinion. I will eat grape or cherry tomatoes from the grocery store, but I won’t touch a regular tomato. I also absolutely refuse to purchase a cucumber from the grocery store…watery, tasteless, yuck! Today we had an absolutely delicious salad with the fresh tomatoes and cucumbers…I was in heaven.
I covered a lot of territory today…cooking, grocery shopping, tablescaping, and purging. Hope your week is great as you tackle whatever projects you have going on in your home!
Added later: definitely so much cuter in the dark!
Sorry my pics just don’t do it justice!