Sunday, December 28, 2014

Carolyn Westbrook: Turkey and Dressing Soup

With all of the cold and wet weather upon us, it makes me crave some warm and delicious comfort food like soup. I began looking through the fridge wondering what I was going to do with the leftover turkey and dressing.  I thought that I might use the leftover turkey in a hearty soup, so here it is:

1- clove of garlic minced
1- small onion diced
Chopped leftover Turkey
1-2 Chicken breasts diced (Depending on how much leftover turkey...I only had about a cup, so I added the chicken to the soup.)
2- large carrots finely chopped
2 TBSP.- Olive Oil
2- stalks of celery finely chopped
1/2 cup-1 cup of leftover dressing
1 cup of leftover green beans- (optional)
4 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 teaspoon each- Rosemary, Thyme, Sage
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Add olive oil to saucepan on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots, onion and celery to the pot and stir. Add diced chicken breasts and spices, and a 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Saute in chicken broth, stirring as needed, until tender. Add in leftover turkey and the remainder of the chicken broth with the milk and cream. Simmer on medium low heat for 15-20 minutes. Add in the leftover green beans. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. Ladle into a bowl. I put a dollop of jellied cranberries on top of mine, but that is completely optional. The whole family loved this and a great way to get rid of the leftovers in a delicious way. Bon Appetite!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Carolyn Westbrook: Christmas in the Country




I probably should have titled this post...a passion for plaid. I do love traditional holiday decorating. Who am I kidding, I love every kind of decorating, so Christmas is the best time of year, where you can sprinkle gobs of glitter and snow, string twinkling lights everywhere, and hang icicles from your tree. I am still in love with a beautiful traditional plaid. We decked the halls, the walls, the banister, the mantles, the exterior, the interior, in fact every room in the house. A mantel bedecked in pine, twinkle lights, gorgeous plaid ribbons and a lovely Ironstone pot with a live planting of paper white flowers...and that smell permeates the room. We have done photography in our book, Carolyn Westbrook: Through the French Door, that shows the photos of our Christmas tree and these beautiful little classic books, that have wonderful red leather bindings. They are exquisite.We always wait until the days before Christmas to hang the stockings. Everyone has a stocking including Teddy, Bella, Rascal, Foxy, Coco, and of course our fat cat Milo. Milo follows me everywhere, like one of the dogs and twists around my feet if I stop for even a second wanting to be scratched on the belly. I think he thinks he is a dog.

There is nothing quite like the season of Christmas and who doesn't love the thought of Christmas in the country. Fresh cut cedar strung and red berries strung about the porches outside. Tonight the air was crisp and the stars were shining like diamonds in the sky. I was stopped in my tracks at the beauty of them as I looked up and thought about the real reason for the season...a baby that was born in manger, while the stars shown in the sky. Here's hoping that everyone spreads the love and joy of the Holiday Season.
                                     Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Carolyn Westbrook Barn Sale

I just want y'all to know that you never know what you are going to find. There is a cast iron bathtub in one of the barn stalls, if anyone is looking for a tub. Too much to list...honestly.
Hope to see you here!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Carolyn Westbrook Barn Sale

This is a not to be missed event. Our Barn Sale is for
all that love antiques, architectural, furniture, old frames, prints,
paintings, home accessories, fabric, garden and just good junk.
Calling all bargain hunters, antiquers, and junkers!
RAIN OR SHINE
Come see us at:

The Oaks Plantation
3043 NE CR 1030
Chatfield, Texas 75105
Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014
9am-2pm
 www.carolynwestbrookhome.com


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Carolyn Westbrook: Autumn Party!


    The mornings are cool here now, but I am happy that there is still warmth in the afternoons. I do love fall, but not yet ready to let go of the fresh tomatoes from the garden. Anyone that knows me, knows that I love any excuse to decorate and that includes a party. My sweet daughter Victoria...her birthday is coming up. Since she was a child we have always thrown a huge Halloween party and weenie roast. This year, we add my darling son-in-law Jose Luis to the mix, which is Alex's husband. They are headed back from Wichita Falls, to come to the Autumn Birthday Barn Party. His birthday is first and Victoria's falls later, but we will have a dual celebration!

     I am so excited about the prospect of decorating and having a party in our huge barn. It was built in 1850 and is made from logs. The trees were cut from the property and numbered as they went up. Really amazing to see. Usually, are parties are held out in the field with a huge bonfire, but this time we are doing things a bit differently and having the party inside the barn. I made a trip to the market yesterday to buy pumpkins. We had pumpkins growing out in the compost pile, but the drought was too severe, so I had to resort to buying them. The party is not for over a week, but cannot start too soon.

I have already done the porches and this black and orange peeling paint French bistro chair, holds one of the Halloween pumpkin. Lots more to do and I will keep you posted.

                                                                         XO Carolyn

                                                                

 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Carolyn Westbrook: Happy Fall Y'all




Fall came barreling into Texas this Sunday with a mighty wind and rain. I do absolutely love the change in the seasons and always have. I remember back to my childhood, while playing outdoors on a warm day, when the first cool breeze came blowing in and I had to run home and grab my pancho. Panchos were the thing then...makes me smile to think about it. These are actually some vintage Halloween paper goods that we used to decorate with, that I simply could never part with. I adore vintage, as you all know. I had this idea to really set them off on the back porch wall, to frame them in antique frames to make them more special. Orange, Black, and Green Plaid cushions is what fall is all about.
I do not need much to have an excuse to redecorate, and the sudden change in the air was enough to set me off. Now it is all about plaids, velvets, pumpkins and sunflowers.
Happy Fall Y'all!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Carolyn Westbrook: Live from The Plantation



We are working on many new projects and we had a photo shoot to put together this week. This is our wonderful lab "puppy" Rascal. Nick found him on the side of the road one night, as his brother had been killed by a car, and he sat over him. We already had four dogs, as Victoria picks up every stray that comes along, but as he said, what was he supposed to do?  We all have big hearts when it comes to dogs and at the time he was only about six weeks old. He is all puppy and that means that he gets into mischief. You never know what you will find in the morning. One morning it looked like it had snowed across the front yard, as he had taken the pillows off of the outdoor furniture and torn the feather filling out across the yard.

This week...it was outdoors and it was of course, blazing hot. I always say, it doesn't really cool  down in Texas until Halloween. We had worked hard to get everything styled to perfection for the shots, and then we have to go inside, in the shade, to view them. The tabletop had a cake stand filled with croissants and homemade biscuits. While we were inside looking at photography, Rascal could not resist. We came out to find a transfer ware plate on the ground and a couple of croissants and biscuits missing. There Rascal was, laying on the porch looking fully satisfied. He turns and yawns and rolls up slowly, like "what?" You gotta love it!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Carolyn Westbrook: Farm Life at the Plantation


We are making hay while the sun is shining. Incredible this year...fourth hay cut of the year. I think this is a record. Of course now-a-days it is much more advanced and less work than the old days. We love to watch the baler come along and roll the huge bales of hay and tie them off.
Trust me, I remember spending weekends and summers on my grandparents farm and ranch, and hauling hay was far from easy. We as kids would be riding around in the back of the pick-up truck, your hair flying in front of your face, while my brothers and the other men had hay hooks. As we drove by the square bales, they would have to hook the bales and load them in the truck. Keep in mind it would be close to 100 degrees, while doing this. Not an easy job. Then they would have to be unloaded and thrown and stacked into the barn. I would say that things have become much easier and that technology is a good thing. Nowadays, no one has to leave the air conditioned cab. Even though it is technically fall, it feels like summer has not quite left yet. It is cool in the mornings, but heating up in the afternoons, to still enjoy a few barefoot days, but looking forward to fall!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Carolyn Westbrook: Farm Life

 
 
A white linen duvet hanging outdoors on the clothesline...is there anything better? I absolutely love the smell of the sunshine. I even dedicated a section of my first book to the clothesline. My childhood memories are filled with me playing beneath the clothesline, as my mom hung out the clothes. The anticipation of that smell, that permeates the air, as you unclasp each clothes pin...heaven. Falling asleep, as if you are sleeping on a cloud, with the smell of the sunshine filling your room, and I have to say, the linen bedding is pretty wonderful too. I might know where you can get some of that www.carolynwestbrookhome.com. xoxo Carolyn
 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Carolyn Westbrook: Homemade Strawberry Preserves

When we moved out to the country, many years ago, I had dreamed of flowers, vegetable gardens, and fruit trees. It was hard to see past the dilapidated structure, with a roof that could possibly cave in on us, but I could see the potential. This place out in the middle of nowhere turned out to be perfect for raising our family. This year, we have been busy canning, as the garden as been producing all summer, and still is. I remember my grandmother canning anything and everything, from Chow-Chow to beets, which we hated, and now I kind of like again. We have made jar after jar of homemade salsa, preserves, and batch after batch of pickles, trying all different methods.

I wish that I could say that we had so many strawberry plants that I made these from our garden. The truth is, I was at the local supermarket and there was a massive abundance of fresh strawberries and they were in season and on sale. Since I was a girl, I have been a huge fan of the strawberry. I had strawberry lip gloss and a  strawberry necklace, you get the picture. So, I grabbed up a plethora of strawberries and thought that I would do strawberry preserves. You know what's funny, in a time when you think people would no longer do canning, the canning isle has been wiped out, every time that I go. So cheers to those who are in on the canning trend. I needed pectin, and I got the last few boxes.

For those who think canning is hard, its not. What you do need is a great bit pot, to boil your jars and lids, before and after you pack your jars. I boil mine and then set them out on a cookie sheet with a towel to drain. All you have to do is mash the strawberries, cover with lemon juice, then add sugar. The recipe is in the pectin package. Just follow that. You throw in the pectin, boil and put in jars. Once you have sealed the jars, with fresh boiling water, submerge the jars to get a good seal.
Take out, let cool, and the preserves will thicken up. I make preserves, because I like chunks of strawberries. It's that simple.
Here is the good news. At a time when big food companies are packing our food with high fructose corn syrup and GMO's its nice to know where your food comes from and what is in it. Strawberries, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice...that is it. Not to mention that they are absolutely delicious. We were slathering strawberry preserves on anything and everything, including some homemade biscuits.
Here's to canning!
xo Carolyn

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Live from The Oaks Plantation

Here it is just the first part of September and we actually had a cool front. Since it was just 101 degrees a couple of days ago, it feels like an Artic blast. I had to put on a sweater to go and feed the animals this morning. The chickens were all puffed up and didn't know what to think about it. For summers in Texas, this one has been a good one. We still have a garden for goodness sakes, and usually that is burnt up and dried up in August, no matter how much you water. I will be so sad to see the garden go. Everyday a heaping mess of black-eyed-peas, okra, and tomatoes are picked. Throw in a little cornbread and we have a supper that any southerner would be thrilled with. To me, it is all about the home grown tomatoes. Just slice them with a sprinkling of salt and I am good to go. I will miss my garden, but for now, it is still providing the harvest, so I will enjoy it until it quits.

Speaking of fall and cooler weather, that always means that the Roundtop Antiques Week is just around the corner. We are collaborating with Marburger Farms Antique Show and hosting a book signing there on opening day, Sept. 30,2014 from 9am-12pm. I hope that y'all can make it there! You are in for some inspiration and wonderful views. xo Carolyn

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fall Flea Market Tips

It is almost time for the most fabulous fall flea market on earth. The Roundtop/Marburger/Warrenton shows are coming up. If you are looking for treasures for your home, then this is the place. There is high end antiques and tents full of wonderful junk, all opening at different times. This show takes place only twice a year in Texas. If you want to re-do or refresh your home, this is a great place to start. Perhaps you are tired of your "big box" interior, and are craving something unique and beautiful things that speak of you, then this is the place. You want things that are not too bright and shiny, but show a little time-worn patina and wear in just the right places. Items with a history and a story that have been a part of generations of interiors. What a great time of year to grab some girlfriends and head down to the hill country for a fabulous Girls Gone Junkin (from my first book, Carolyn Westbrook Home) trip. In my first book we have an entire chapter on Girls Gone Junkin featuring shopping in Warrenton, Texas. Zapp Hall is a great place to start and they have a website at www.zapphall.com. Make sure to check out my talented friends, Debbie and Danny York, right inside the Zapp Hall building. They are saying that this is the best "junk" that they have ever had. Zapp Hall is a great place to shop and take a break with the Royer's CafĂ© where you can sit down for lunch or dinner and feast on some wonderful comfort food. Also, live bands and beer in the beer garden or a glass of champagne in the "bubble lounge." Marburger Farms is a wonderful place for inspiration and you can check them out at www.roundtop-marburger.com. Here is a list of some of the things that I look for:

  • Antique Silver Trays
  • Old Architectural Pieces such as Columns, Trims, Doors, Windows
  • Old Statuary
  • Harvest Tables for your kitchen or dining room.
  • Old Leather Bound Books
  • Antique Chandeliers with lots of beautiful prisms.
  • Transfer ware in all colors.
  • Old Mercury Glass
  • Beautiful old oil paintings.
  • Antique Rugs, especially the ones that have great colors that are a bit muted and faded from wear.
  • Glass Spooners
  • Antique (Monogrammed) Silver Plate Utensils.
Things to take along that you might need:
  • Tape Measure
  • Hat
  • Umbrella
  • Rain boots
  • Mosquito Spray
  • Ant bite stick
  • Tote bag for small items
  • Cart for bigger items
  • Tote or backpack filled with snack items and bottled water.
  • Phone for taking photos.
  • List items that you have bought and where they are located for pick-up.
  • Get receipts
Go out there and hunt down some treasures, and above all...have fun!
                                                                               xo Carolyn


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

From Flea Market to Fabulous


As I sat in Nick's room, before the make-over, I knew that I wanted this room to be very dramatic. You can see the entire new look of "Nick's Room" in the new book, Carolyn Westbrook: A Romance with French Living. Here my favorite photographer Eric Richards, captures the images for the new book. So, before Nick had the "Safari" look, which I do love, since the first book, Carolyn Westbrook Home. He had grown up with it. I remember upholstering his walls with burlap before burlap was hot. Now, it was time to create something completely different. My flea market finds often inspire an entire room. With my quest for the perfect thing at the perfect price, that often leads me to search flea market tents, tables, in garage corners, in the back of pick-up trucks, and underneath tables sifting through boxes. There is no where that I won't go for just the right thing. A grouping of faded blue globes of the world, some of which came out of an old school, are some of my favorite things. Yes, we had used them before, but NEVER get rid of fabulous.

I knew that we wanted to use a rich, dark blue, as it is always impactful and dramatic. Life is all about the details. No detail is too small. Here we have a tray that is sat atop a beautifully skirted table in blue silk. The blue top sets off this tray perfectly. I adore trays for decorating. Your art does not have to be just on the wall. You can create gorgeous vignettes on a table top, with a tray as your base. This tray is made from wood, with beautiful brass handles, and came from England originally. I actually found a stack of these at a junky flea market in Atlanta. The tray can be anything that you absolutely love, from a mirrored tray, to silver, brass or wood and the trays can be used on any surface such as a chest, a coffee table, a sofa table, to a centerpiece on the dining table.

Think outside the box when creating your "tray art." My "tray art" almost always includes antique, leather bound books. I am in love with little books, and these are magnificent. One of my sources for these magnificent books, is Kay Gilbreath, a.k.a The Book Lady, who will be at Marburger  Farms Antique Show in just a few weeks in Texas. The books shown here, came from her. Books play an amazing part of decorating. They can be stacked, used as a pedestal for a plant, a small easel with a miniature oil painting or in this case, a rest for an exquisite magnifying glass and some larger books are stacked as a base for a lamp, to give it some height.

All the small things that I love can be "showcased" on a tray.  One could add a small plant potted in an antique trophy cup, a small vase filled with one bloom, your imagination will make it your own. I do love tiny ancestor photographs, housed in small, antique silver frames. It adds a bit of your own family history, and makes the house yours. Anything from blue pottery to Mercury glass candlesticks in all shapes and sizes. I do think a "live" element is good, like I said...a small green plant or a colorful bloom works well. I have a fascination with the, hourglass sand timers. I think everybody likes to look and touch these, so a great conversation piece for a coffee table, not to mention they are a pretty detail to our "tray art."

I preach this all the time, but with the release of my new book, I have to get back up at the podium. Get out there and hunt down your treasures for your home, that will then be uniquely yours. They will have a patina, a history, and you are actually recycling in the best way. You will never have the home that you want from an "all new" interior. Our mantra is, "Creating a Home that Reflects the Spirit of You" and that means going out and traipsing across fields and through tents to find the perfect thing. Lucky for you, one of the best flea markets around is coming up and only happens twice a year in Roundtop, Texas. More on that in the next blog....

xoxo Carolyn


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This was today's haul from the hen house. Oh, and let's not forget the Colonel, who is the rooster that rules the roost. I have to get out there early, because of the heat. The chickens have been so hot in the afternoon, that I have to go out to the pen with the water hose and sprinkle them with a fountain of water, which they love. Otherwise, they are walking around squawking with their tongues hanging out. The Polish hens are so funny, they have what looks like a fancy hat, and they can barely see where they are going. We have always had chickens here, and I love the color of the Araucana's eggs, in their pale blues and greens. The yolks are bright gold, and of course our chickens are free roaming. They like to be petted, so whenever Grayson or Carrington come over, the first thing that they want to do is gather the eggs. What a great way to start the day...fresh eggs. xoxo Carolyn

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


So, you must have figured out by now that I am the worst blogger in the whole world. I am really going to try and be better, as anyone that knows me knows how much I love to talk, and cook, and decorate, and eat, and this sort of covers all of that. For months, I have been telling the kids that I wanted us to start eating outdoors more. Well, last Saturday night against a few protests of, "It's too hot," we finally had the chance to do it. I cook this stuff up in my head, and dreamed of wine, Italian fare and dining al fresco. Sometimes a plan comes together and sometimes it doesn't, but I was full steam ahead and had everyone plan on this outside get-together.
We used to do this all the time, when we stayed at my grandparents farm during the summer, and it was much less complicated. Of course back then there were not cell phones and I-Pads, and every kid did not have their own vehicle. I remember our cookouts with my grandparents, parents and cousins, which were filled with my grandmother's amazing ability to throw a meal together at the drop of a hat. They always had a big garden, like we do, and it supplied all of the "fixins" for the hamburgers. Of course after the cook out there were wolf calls to make, which was basically us howling at the moon, until we would get a howl back, and then came the spooky tales. Everyone would tell there scariest ghost stories, and we would scare ourselves so badly, and then have to go in and go to bed, listening to every creak of the house, and thinking that Big Foot was going to come carry us away.

Sorry for veering off course...so, this night it was a gathering of everybody, to include my kids, Victoria and Nick (Alex has sadly gone off to school) and Victoria's friend Tristan, her adorable son, Grayson, and of course, Joe (husband), Christi (sister-in-law), Carrington (niece) who is also quite adorable, my mother Charlotte, and Nick's friend Riley, who has grown up at our house.
I love this old, metal, outdoor chandelier, and use it as often as we can, to light up the night while dining outdoors. I also have to have lots and lots of candles sprinkled about. Christi is worse than I am about candles, she lit every one. I cooked the lasagna and Cesar Salad ahead of time, so not that much to do. I used linen drop cloths to cover the tables, and gathered real silverware, as I hate plastic, silver serving trays, which I collect. If you can run across silver trays at an estate or garage sale, then get them. They always make for a beautiful table. Throw in some blue Spode dishes and of course some wine, and it is a party. The kids slurped on pink lemonade and we slurped on some pretty delicious wine, and a good time was had by all. My advice...enjoy this warm weather and the evening breezes. Even if you don't have a grove of Oak trees, set up on a porch, under any tree or shelter, and you are ready for some good food and the amazing gift of slowing life down, listening to stories, and maybe even throw in a scary story at the end. Wishing you loads of end of summer fun! XOXO Carolyn

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Live from the Plantation...it's tomato season!

Oh My Gosh!! It is that time of year. This year the weather has been a total blessing here in Texas, and the garden is overloaded with red, ripe, juicy tomatoes. Because of the cooler weather, which never happens in August in our neck of the woods in Texas, we are still gathering loads of squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, black-eyed peas, green beans, and more!! I made a glorious tomato and cucumber salad that y'all would love! It is just cubed tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced red onion, fresh basil chopped, 1/2 block of Feta cheese, salt, pepper, and Italian Dressing....YUM!!! It is heaven.
And just a mention...the sale at the plantation listed on the blog is for last year...we have not set a date for this year's sale. Don't want anyone disappointed!

xoxo Carolyn