Friday, September 27, 2013

Serendipity


Richardson Wright, editor-in-chief of House & Garden from 1914 to 1946, wrote this:

"Here is a nice word that collectors will enjoy--Serendipity. It was coined by Horace Walpole out of the fairy tale, 'The Three Princes of Serendip,' the heroes of which were always making discoveries by accident. And that is its meaning--the faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. When you wander into an antique shop in search of a pewter candlestick and find a unique piece of Irish glass for next to nothing, you are blessed with Serendipity."


I felt blessed with Serendipity one day last spring when R.H. and I had an hour to spare before going to a birthday party in a town near us and dropped into the local Goodwill. On the bottom shelf in the dish section, pushed to the back, were two stacks of luncheon plates taped together.


I loved the hand painted look of them and put them in our basket after turning one stack over to look at the back. It read "Martres" and "France" and were 50 cents apiece!


Once home I searched online and found only two like them, in Belgium for about $14 each. Not exactly diamonds and rubies but nevertheless, it was Serendipity.

I almost felt like Serendipity had blessed me again when I went outside to look for something to make a centerpiece for the table and found these few blossoms on one side of the hydrangea bush, the other side turned brown.


And old-fashioned bouquet for an old square blue Mason jar.


These plates were just right for chicken salad. The well loved and much missed novelist, Laurie Colwin, wrote: "Chicken salad has a certain glamour about it. Like the little black dress it is chic and adaptable and can be taken anywhere. You can dress it down and feed it to a child, or dress it up and serve it at a dinner party. You can accessorize it in an interesting way and astonish your friends at lunch."


Everyone has a favorite recipe for chicken salad. I started with the Barefoot Contessa's recipe and then changed it to include green apple slivers after tasting the delicious chicken salad at the Storie Street Grille in Blowing Rock, North Carolina [here].

I also made one of my favorite soups from Lee Bailey's Soup Meals with leeks, celery, onions and shallots. If you love soups you won't go wrong looking for Mr. Bailey's soup cookbook on used book sites. The recipe for Carrot-Dill Soup I made last winter [here] is also in this book.


Since I can't go to Serendipity in New York for this (at $25,000.00)....


I will go to Goodwill and hope for Serendipity. Where have you found Serendipity?



21 comments:

  1. It was a few months ago. But I found my beloved oak coffee table by turning on a sudden whim when I saw a garage sale sign. I was on my way to an appointment and really didn't have too much time to spare. But still I turned and turned. And brought home my precious table.
    Brenda

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  2. Isn't it fun to discover something you weren't even looking for. My husband and I so disagree about this concept. He only goes to a store if he needs something specific. Otherwise he never wants to go just to look and see what there might be. I of course love the act of coming home with something totally different than you intended.
    Love the plates!

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  3. Wow Dewena! Our posts today are in synchrony! I experienced serendipity when I found my lovely blue side table that sits in our living room. I never expected to find it at such a great price. I wasn't thinking about the table when I went into the antique mall. I was actually looking for old apothecary jars. I love your plates and I'd love to have your recipe for chicken salad.

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  4. That's right, Sandy! Your graceful blue table was serendipity!
    Basically, the recipe is to use 3 chicken breasts with bone and skin, rubbed with olive oil, S & P at 350 till done, Cool, discard skin & bones & cut in size you like. Sauté 1 cup pecans & salt (I use coconut oil). Chop 3 stalks celery, l bunch scallions, cilantro. Cut slivers of 1 green apple, add 1/2 cup golden raisins. Mix dressing of 1 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 teaspoon curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, a little celery salt. Add juice of 1-2 lemons. Stir in green grapes cut in half. Stir all together and season more to taste if needed. Refrigerate.

    Very simple! And probably like most recipes for chicken salad and can be adjusted to include what you like. I do think the flavor is so much better if you roast the chicken breasts instead of poaching them.

    Thanks for asking!

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    1. My dear Dewena,

      I absolutely ADORE this post of yours, both for its subject of discussion, and for the subject with which you chose to photographically illustrate the topic - those charming French plates! They are so pretty; I would have grabbed them in an instant, (unless I was shopping with you!). How exquisitely you have complemented them with the checkered place mats, the glasses and the mason jar filled with the joys of your early autumn garden.

      Well, everyone has a story about good ol' serendipity; thank goodness for its enchantment in our lives! I have many tales to tell of this whimsical wonder, but on this occasion, I will relate an experience my daughter had, which is directly connected to me.

      One fine spring morning, while studying and living in Athens, on her way to the supermarket, Libby spots a poster, still wrapped in its original, plastic packaging, in a box on the side of the road, waiting to be picked up by the city sanitation department. As she approached the abandoned pile, she noticed the rich, orange-y, red swirls that seemed to be pining for her attention. Kneeling down to take a closer look, she instantly recognized that the figures in the picture were none other than van Gogh's 'Still Life: Red Poppies and Daisies'. Excited from the sweet surprise, her hands trembling from the sheer luck of this discovery and the meaning behind it, she picked up the poster and called me immediately from her cell phone to report this most serendipitous occurrence.

      A few weeks later, the pretty poster made the safe voyage to its current home, where it is viewed with respect and much love, above the antique, brass bed in the guest bedroom, welcoming all who sleep under its magic.

      Thank you so much for reminding me of such moments in our lives that make us feel the fun of fairy tales in our hearts!

      Hope you have a splendid Saturday,

      xo
      poppy

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  6. I scored a wonderful wicker sofa, chaise, and arm-chairs from Salvation Army Store and ReStore (Habitat for Humanity) in Venice. They furnished a Florida room in my rental property...too cool!
    Goodwill has been good for whiteware dishes.

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  7. I've found little bits and bobs for our autumn decorations at the thrift store when I dropped off the eggs last week. For just a few dollars... I added little things to finish it off to my liking! Serendipity!

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  8. I love when something sweetly serendipitous happens! The plates are wonderful.
    My friend JoAnn gave me a curried chicken salad recipe that is delicious.

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  9. Hey mom do you remember that I worked at Serendipity for one day when I lived in New York?! I had forgotten about that experience until I read your post! :-)

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    1. That's right! I had forgotten about that. I wonder what the $25K dessert would have cost me at your employee's discount? I would have settled for their Frrrozen Cocoa, was that the name of it?

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  10. Wow, what beautiful plates you found for pennies! And I agree with the assessment of chicken salad...it truly is a wonderful dish for so many occasions.
    Mary Alice

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  11. What a nice description of chicken salad by Laurie Colwin. I had a serendipitous encounter with celery/ apple soup and rosemary/apricot chicken salad at a local bookstore cafe last year. I do not possess the culinary talents to reproduce the soup without a recipe, but was able to copy the chicken salad and, in my not-so-humble opinion, improve it. I eat it open face on slices of toasted ciabatta or torta bread. If you knew how accidental my twiddlings with recipes turn out tasty you would see the serendipity in it.

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  12. Love this post, Dewena. Your plates are delightful at any price, but 50 cents each is unbelievable. The table setting is wonderful. How fun to come across a bargain like this and then to be able to enjoy it for lunch. I had a serendipitous moment at Habitat for Humanity's thrift shop on Friday. A little white stoneware pitcher with a raised fleur de lis design for $2. I smiled all the way home.

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  13. Oh my word! Dewena, I love those plates, and what a great deal you got on them! You're right - they do look hand painted, and I love the colors. Okay, this entire post made me swoon, because I also love Hydrangeas and blue Ball jars - not to mention chicken salad. I'm amazed that you are able to come up with such fabulous quotes to go along with anything you post. You must have a photographic memory. I can read the same book twice and not know until about page 30 that I have already read the book! I love the word "serendipity", and I loved your quote from the House and Garden editor. Really good post! laurie

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  14. Those plates are gorgeous - such a great find!

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  15. Serendipity, indeed, Dewena!!! LOVELY glasses and plates. Your hydrangeas are so pretty. I like the colors of them!

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  16. Those plates are lovely! I think serendipity is a gorgeous concept... Oh, honey! Laurie Colwin? I have never found anyone else who has read her.... Wasn't she a peach... I read her also because of Simple Abundance!

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  17. WAAAAA I want chicken salad for lunch now :(

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  18. Serendipity..such a pretty word. Some sweet friends of ours built a beautiful Victorian house on the back of 15 acres and named their little road Serendipity Lane. That was the first time I had ever heard the word. I came home and looked it up and thought that was so clever. My serendipity is always at Goodwill too. Sometimes when I find something special that I didn't know I wanted, I also call it a little kiss from God~

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  19. Thank you for the story on serendipity...new to me and I enjoy knowledge. The plates are lovely and yes, Colwin is a favorite. Every piece of furniture has a story...this is exactly why I find it difficult to rid myself of furniture. I love the STORY and the STORIES...if something doesn't have one, I'll make it up.

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