Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Decorating Ideas

The winter holidays have arrived! One of my favorite parts of the season is transforming a space into something festive and new with holiday decor. Whether you’re decorating simply to capture the holiday spirit, or preparing for a special event, here are some holiday decorating techniques equally lovely for both.

To read these tips, visit the new home of Rosanna's Table Talk at

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Gift-Giving Etiquette from Anna Post

Recently I was able to meet Anna Post. Naturally our conversation turned to the similar philosophies of etiquette, entertaining, and creating traditions. I am honored that she accepted my request to write a guest post for Table Talk about holiday etiquette. Her advice is both contemporary and timeless. Thank you Anna.  

Compliments of the

Emily Post Institute
It was my pleasure to recently visit Seattle for the first time while there to promote my new book, “Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition.” One of the highlights was a trip to Rosanna, Inc. and the wonderful opportunity to sit down with owner Rosanna Bowles. Rosanna was kind enough to show me her world—and I found our opinions on entertaining, traditions and kindness to be very much in tandem. Rosanna’s beautiful creations represent easy elegance, entertaining for the pleasure of bringing people together and the values of tradition. These are also the goals of etiquette.

To read Anna's complete Q & A, visit the new home of Rosanna's Table Talk at

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Holiday Rituals

In the third of our Holiday Entertaining Series Collaborative posts between Rosanna's Table & Family Eats, we look at the Tradition of Christmas.  Be sure to gather ideas and delicious recipes from the Family Eats article, Celebrating the Art of Giving: Gifts from the Kitchen.

The winter months give us many opportunities to establish traditions that can last for generations.  The repetition of traditions and rituals helps us grow roots; it allows us to take part in the legacy spanning many generations.  When we practice a tradition, we are in fact linking ourselves to the chain of human history, providing a continuation of the kind of life that humans have lived since the beginning of civilization.

Our family traditions begin when we decorate the Christmas tree.  I make hot toddies (see recipe below) and my mother's Christmas sugar cookies.  I play a variety of Christmas music, including jazz renditions sung by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, and classical pieces by Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo.  For my family, this night represents the beginning of winter holiday festivities.  Together we transform the house, and when we're finished, we find ourselves surrounded by the magical beauty of the holidays.

For the hot toddie recipe, as well as the rest of this article, please visit the new location of Rosanna's Table at

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Caramel Cake

By Rosanna's eldest daughter, Alessandra Wollner

For my 13th birthday, my mother made an extraordinary cake. I can’t recall why she decided to make this particular cake for that particular birthday, but after she did, there was no going back. Since the advent of my thirteenth birthday, I’ve had a decade to explore the vast realm of birthday cake prospects. Despite the staggering array of options, I’ve stayed faithful to one cake. Without fail, I have demanded and enjoyed the same extraordinary cake on every birthday since my 13th. 

What makes this cake special is the pitch perfect way in which the flavors harmonize with each other. The salty, sweet, buttery notes of the caramel frosting melt into the slightly savory, nutty essence of the cake crumb. My mother has awarded this cake with the highest accolade she bestows on food, calling it “Ambrosia of the Gods.” My great grandmother just called it Caramel Cake. 

For the complete recipe, as well as the continuation of this blog post, please visit the new location of Rosanna's Table Talk at

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Women In Business

A few days ago I did some simple math, and I made a shocking discovery. I have spent just about half my life as an entrepreneur. When I look back at the trail I’ve blazed since starting Rosanna Inc., I see the hundreds of experiences, lessons, and people who have helped me pave my way. In reflecting, I also think about what the world looked like nearly thirty years ago when I began my business.  Back then, it was no small feat for women to find a job. And a woman becoming an entrepreneur? Nearly unheard of!

Photo compliments of
Shelly Oberman Photography
All of this musing wasn’t simply for the sake of taking stock. I was revisiting my memories for a reason. A few months ago, I became a finalist for a business award specifically for Northwest women entrepreneurs. The nomination presented me with a privilege and a challenge: to craft an inspirational speech addressed to my fellow women entrepreneurs.

To read the complete story as well as excerpts from my speech, please visit Rosanna's Table Talk's new location at

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Diner En Blanc

As the last traces of summertime disappeared into the fast approaching autumn, a group gathered in historic Gasworks Park for a magical evening of food and friendship. The ingredients were unusual enough catch the attention of a few hundred Seattleites:  secrecy, creativity, synchronization, camaraderie, delicacies, and champagne. We were also instructed to dress a certain way: all in white.

I’m talking about Seattle’s very own, and very first, Dîner en Blanc (French for Dinner in White). The original Dîners began in France in 1988. Since then, Dîners have been happening all throughout Paris. Recently, food and performance art enthusiasts have orchestrated their own Dîners, far from the Seine and the clanging bells of Notre Dame Cathedral. The New York Times even ran
an article about the event, which came to Seattle, WA this summer.

For the complete story, please visit the new location of Rosanna's Table Talk at

Monday, October 10, 2011

Halloween Entertaining For Kids & Adults Alike

Many of you have already been introduced to our friends at Family Eats.  Today we’ve partnered with them to create blog entries about Halloween Entertaining.  Please make sure to read the Halloween Entertaining: Slow Sundays Goes Halloween post on their blog. It has great tips for planning party food, setting the mood,  and getting your kids involved in the preparation.  There are some great food tips & recipes.  Look for us to partner together again in the near future.

Halloween Décor
There are so many ways to decorate for Halloween beyond putting a jack-o-lantern on the stoop.  The natural beauty of the fall season is plentiful and easy to infuse into your décor.  Select beautiful gourds, squash, and fall leaves to adorn your home.  Haystacks, kindly scarecrows, and lush fall wreaths can also be added into the warm earth tones of the season.

To read the full article, with full tips and recipes, please visit the new location of Rosanna's Table Talk at

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pasta Bowls & Healthy Foods Make Easy Entertaining

With fall comes cooler temperatures and a desire to prepare our nest for the cold winter months.  We have a natural tendency to want to stay inside more as the days get shorter. Being inside doesn't mean we need to feel isolated or away from the world.  In fact, now is the perfect time to have friends and family over for an informal gathering.

Rosanna Canvas Totes
As the summer growing season comes to an end, we must take advantage of our last opportunities to find local fresh fruits and vegetables.   Fall is a great time to head to the farmers market.  Recently I made a trip to my local farmers' market and filled my Rosanna Canvas Tote with delicious fresh tomatoes.  I like to prepare fresh tomato sauce for my pasta when local tomatoes are at their peak, then freeze it in individual containers for use during the winter months.  It makes a quick go-to meal for my family, and gives me the assurance that it is healthy too.

To read the rest of this entry, and view my tomato sauce recipe, please visit the new home of Rosanna's Table Talk at

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Life Mirrors Art Mirrors Life--WE'VE MOVED

Earlier this week I was contacted by a creative food artist who calls herself "Fairly Odd Mother".  She had an ambitious idea that really sparked my imagination, to replicate my Tea For Me, Too teaset using food.  I'm always one to foster creativity, and I was very interested in how my colorful stoneware mini tea set would translate into an edible food medium.

She posted her creation on her blog yesterday, and the result is certainly something that I had to write about.  Using everything from ice cream cones to chocolate, and fondant to gum paste, her interpretation of Tea For Me, Too is spot on.

To see her creation and read the rest of my post, please point your browser to the new location of Rosanna's Table Talk at  Thank you.

Friday, September 16, 2011

5th Annual Tablescape Contest Honorable Mentions--WE'VE MOVED

The Tablescape Contest produced so many wonderfully inspiring stories and photos this year that I couldn't let an opportunity pass to share many more of them with you.

Adelle Belnap's Treehouse Teatime is imaginative and provides a touching story.  In her words:
"I spend every day with my children.  We rarely have time apart. . . 

To read the rest of this story and see the other Honorable Mentions, please click here to be redirected to the new location for Rosanna's Table Talk.

Monday, September 12, 2011

5th Annual Tablescape Winners---WE'VE MOVED

The winners of the 5th Annual Tablescape have just been announced.  Rosanna's Table Talk blog has moved to the following link,  Please visit the new location to view the winning tablescapes and read my future posts.

All of my previous posts have been migrated to my new blog location.  Please don't forget to bookmark the new location in your browser's favorites, and if you subscribe to the blog as an RSS feed, please update the feed to the new location as well.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our social media contact at

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Bowl: A Vessel For Tradition

Bowls are among the oldest vessels found by archeologists, dating back thousands of years, and continue to be used daily across the globe, from morning meals through evening dinners.    Because bowls are the items we use most in the kitchen, I designed two sets of daily bowls, with the hopes that you could use these bowls to begin family traditions and rituals.
The Comfort Food Bowls Collection
The Comfort Food bowls are a hearty bowl, perfect for serving vegetables,  grains, popcorn, and everything from hot soups to ice cream without any worry of cracking or crazing.  They are made of a sturdy stoneware which is dishwasher and microwave safe, great for everyday family use.  The colors are rich, earth tones and remind us to eat healthy.

I designed the Comfort Food bowls while thinking about the Lentil Soup my mother used to make us from scratch when I was a child.  I felt my mother’s care and love each time she made the soup, as it warmed my body and my heart, and gave me proper nutrition. 

Fall temperatures are just around the corner, and most of us crave warm meals as the temperatures drop.  Use these bowls to start your own family tradition of a Soup Night, by making your own nutritious soup from scratch, and gathering the family around the table to share it.

Another childhood tradition that I’ve carried on to my own children is Family Movie Night.   When I was younger, my grandmother would make popcorn the old fashioned way on the stove in a pan, while we watched a movie.  I wanted a bowl that was the perfect size and perfect portion for Family Movie Night with my daughters, so I created the Rosanna Bowls.  

The Rosanna Bowls Collection

The Rosanna Bowls can lead to a variety of family traditions—whether it is a Popcorn Night, Ice Cream Night, chips & salsa, berries, or another tasty snack—make a tradition around coming together as a family, eating healthy, and spending time together.

These bowls were so important to me when I designed them that I named them The Rosanna Bowls, as a play on my name, Rosanna Bowles.  They are my go-to bowl in my own kitchen, and over the past few years have been brought back season after season due to their popularity.    

So as fall signals a return to our daily rituals of work and school, let it also signal a time for new and continued family traditions.  You can make every day special by starting your own family traditions today!

Note:  If you’d like to try my mother’s delicious Lentil Soup, you can find it on page 131 of my book, Coming Home: A Seasonal Guide to Creating Family Traditions.  Also, my Homemade Popcorn in a Pan recipe can be found on page 49.

If you'd like to find out more about my Comfort Food & Rosanna Bowls, as well as tips for creating family traditions, visit Rosanna TV: Episode 1, on my YouTube Channel at

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Traditions Transcending Generations

When I was a little girl, I always looked forward to my father’s New York business trips. He never returned home empty-handed. Without fail, he came bearing treats from Veniero’s.

Veniero’s Pasticceria and Caffe opened in 1894 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. My father grew up in Stuyvesant town around the corner. His Italian mother passed her love of Italian confections early on to him, and as a result, my father haunted Veniero’s throughout his childhood and young adulthood. In turn, my father passed this taste onto his daughters. 

Although we lived all the way across the country in Portland, OR, Veniero’s became an important fixture in our family life. My father's favorites became our favorites, which we then passed on to our children. To this day, extended family Christmas celebrations are not complete without Anise Toast, Pignoli (pine nut) cookies, and the famous Veniero’s cookie tray. 

I cherish Veniero’s. This old world café, with its stamped copper ceilings and long glass display cases filled with ornate Italian pastries and the scent of freshly baked biscotti, has played an important role in the story of our family. This place was part of my father’s, my own, and now my daughters' childhoods. It is a place that connects us to the life my grandparents lived in old New York. It is a place to take a small family pilgrimage. For the sake of my family and the many others for whom Veniero’s has a similar significance, I hope their business continues to flourish for generations to come. 

Passing rituals down through the generations is a vital way to keep family bonds strong and healthy. If your family has a tradition already, continue to carry the torch. If not, take some time to reflect on some thing or place you cherish, and consider introducing it to your family, thereby making it a part of your family story.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Come Together. Right Now.

With the economy swinging high and low once again, the United States finds itself uncertain about which way the financial situation is going to go. The result? Much anxiety and increased stress.

These emotions can be traced back to one fundamental emotion: fear. Fear is amplified by isolation—keeping feelings inside, withdrawing from the people who love us and losing ourselves in our problems.

So, I think it’s time for us to take a cue from the Beatles. We need to come together. Right now.

The importance of coming together is nothing new. Those of you who follow my blog and collect Rosanna product know that I always have been a staunch advocate of coming together and creating community.

In this post, I want to suggest a few specific ways to come together that reveal the resources and community available right at your fingertips. 

Courtesy: John Granen Photography
Visit Popular Public Spaces
I don’t mean shopping malls or downtown centers. Find the place in your community that most closely resembles the Italian piazza—a place where people gather to visit with friends and neighbors and spend time in the company of each other.

In Seattle we have Greenlake, a green space constantly peopled by joggers, bikers, roller-bladers, strollers, and plenty of babies and dogs.

University campuses are also often lively, featuring free concerts, lectures, performances, and readings. The presence of students lounging on the lawns and playing Frisbee can be a heartening sight.

Attend summer concerts or plays in the parks; also look out for outdoor movies.

Take advantage of the warm weather and visit a local beach! Lakes, rivers, or the ocean are full of good feeling, places where people lounge, visit, swim, and play.

Create Community
Bringing friends and neighbors together doesn’t have to entail a full-blown dinner party. To create an impromptu get together, try hosting a low-pressure gathering—
A glass of wine or beer and snacks at sunset
                        A bonfire after dinner
An ice cream party (which requires no cooking or prep work!)

If you do decide to host a meal—make it a BBQ. Encourage everyone to bring something to grill; with each guest pitching in, you’re more like a facilitator, freed from burdens of a full-blown host.

Carve Out Family Time
Come together with your family by starting a tradition. It could be something as simple as reading a chapter book to your children at bedtime. The longer story guarantees continuity. The activity can be just as soothing for parents as it can be for children.

It’s extraordinary how comforting a little bit of support can feel. All you have to do is ask for it, or offer it yourself. Be proactive about creating a space where connection can happen for yourself and others. Take the first steps and come together. We all feel better when we do.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Homemade Noodles Made Our Perfect Pasta Night

A few evenings ago, we were hosting relatives of my husband, visiting from Italy. 

They insisted on preparing an authentic Italian dinner.  I knew I was in for quite a treat—both in the food, as well as the time spent together during the preparation.

Sara began by making homemade pasta noodles from scratch.  Using the simplest of ingredients—flour, egg, and a lot of love---she carefully created the dough.   

My daughter, Francesca, assisted by rolling the dough flat.  The preparation of this dinner quickly became a family event, and allowed us time to converse and laugh together.  

When it was ready, the dough was cut into perfect fettucini-size pasta noodles.

I decided to get involved by making a delicious tomato sauce from a family recipe.

After warming everything, we married the pasta and tomato sauce together and refrains of "manga, manga" were being spoken throughout the kitchen, as everyone was eager to sit together and eat.

The time we spent together preparing the meal, as well as enjoying it was sublime.  Connecting with family in the kitchen during the preparation of a meal, and then sharing that meal together around the table, truly creates memories and meaning.

While not everyone has Italian relatives with a family pasta recipe or the preparation time to make homemade noodles, fresh noodles can be found at nearly every grocery store and at many farmers markets. 

I encourage you to have a family pasta night.  Get the family involved in making a salad, some garlic bread, and setting a beautiful table.  That's exactly why I designed my Pasta Italiana Collection.  The large serving bowl and pasta bowls make it easy for families to start the tradition of "Pasta Night".  The 4 individual designs on the pasta bowls include hand-scribed pasta recipes.  The greens, reds, and whites in the design combine beautifully with the colors of your family's favorite pasta.

To help get you started, I'd like to share my homemade tomato sauce recipe with you.  Enjoy!  

Tomato Sauce
serves 4

1 large carrot
2 ribs celery with leaves
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
½ good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 (28 ounce) cans San Marzano Roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon sugar (if necessary)
½ cup heavy cream
Pinch of pepperoncini, or hot red pepper flakes

Dice the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic (this can also be done in a food processor).

Put the oil in a large saucepan and place over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the chopped vegetables to the pan and sauté over medium heat until just soft, about 5 minutes.

Puree the tomatoes in a food processor, then add them to the pan.  Add the salt, and sugar If necessary (I find that the San Marzanos are usually sweet enough on their own).  Let the sauce simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Add the cream and simmer gently for 30 minutes; do not boil, or the sauce could curdle.  Add the pepperoncini, then serve over pasta.

Note:  This sauce is a great base sauce that can also be modified with meat, other vegetables, or vodka for variation.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blackberry Biscuits--A Perfect Summer Treat

In keeping with the blog’s recent theme of healthy eating, I wanted to share a summer dessert recipe for Blackberry Biscuits that hit the Big Three:

It’s easy,
it’s local,
and it’s healthy.

…and did I mention it’s delicious?

This is a dessert that can be prepared in the time it takes to wash the dinner dishes, put away the leftovers, and make tea. It’s a very low-maintenance endeavor.

Picking the blackberries yourself fulfills the local part of the dessert. Substituting whole wheat mix for white flour mix, and a dollop of luscious non-fat Greek yogurt for whipped cream makes this dish delicious without the guilt of over-indulgence.

The perfumey delicacy of the blackberry compote pairs perfectly with a cup of lemon verbena-lavender tea, which you can make by simply boiling some lavender blossoms and verbena leaves over high heat.

Have I sold you yet? In case you need more convincing, here’s the recipe:

Blackberry Biscuits

For the compote
3 cups ripe blackberries
1/4 -1/2 cup sugar, honey, or agave (the amount of sweetener will vary depending on the ripeness of your berries)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the biscuits
1 package whole-wheat biscuit/pancake mix
(read the back to see what your specific mix calls for)

For yogurt
1 container plain 0% Greek yogurt

-Prepare biscuit batter according the instructions on the package
-Put in oven to bake
-Wash berries
-Pour into to a small saucepan over med-low heat
-Stir in sweetener, lemon juice, and a little water
-Simmer gently until the berries liquefy and begin to thicken, 10-15 minutes
-Slice baked biscuits in half, place one biscuit in a bowl, ladle yogurt in and pour the blackberry compote on top.
-Savor or devour, according to your preference.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Teaching Children Healthy Habits

Photos courtesy of
John Granen Photography
Can you hear it? The wind of change is rustling the branches of the apple trees and garlic shoots in backyards across America. Our county is thinking seriously about the connection between living well and eating well. If you aren’t convinced that this phenomenon is indeed a national one, look no further than the White House. At the helm of the movement is Michelle Obama who is educating the nation about childhood obesity with her Let’s Move! Campaign and getting her hands dirty the White House garden. The New York Times is running articles about the Permaculture movement, organizations like Family Eats and Oldways are going full steam ahead, and Edible Schoolyards are popping up in elementary schools across the nation.

New ideas are fluttering and buzzing through America’s cultural consciousness like so many brightly colored butterflies and busy bumblebees. As promising as all of this is, how do we net these ideas and transform them into action in our daily lives? It’s not hard at all. There are any number of (figurative) seeds you can plant to help this movement grow, many of which can involve your children.  

Bring Your Kids to the Farmer's Market
Teach your children that produce doesn’t grow in the supermarket. To really drive that point home, have your children talk to the farmers. These individuals are not only food cultivators; they can also function as teacher for city kids whose experience with gardens may be limited to the 2nd grade field trip to a farm or the county fair.

Take a Field Trip to a “Pick Your Own Berries” Farm
Small farming communities exist an hour or so away from many large urban centers. Make a day trip to one of these regions and spend an afternoon harvesting blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries with your children. Go home and bake a pie, or cook up a batch of preserves. Outings like these help our children develop a more meaningful connection to the food they eat.

Plant a Garden
It’s not too late! If you don’t have a yard with space to garden, consider container gardening on a terrace or a windowsill. Buy semi-mature vegetable plants and herbs at your local nursery, or even at the drugstore. Now is the perfect time to start planning your fall/winter garden. Look up which crops grow well in your area and are good to plant for the fall and winter. Gardening with children and watching plants grow together can be a great delight and invaluable bonding activity.

Have Healthy Snacks On Hand
During the summer months when school’s out, stock your fridge and pantry with healthy snacks for hungry kids. Kids especially love crunchy foods—carrots, celery, apples, cucumbers, and snap peas can be big hits—especially when paired with hummus or a creamy yogurt dip. Salted nuts and seeds are great for satisfying a salt craving. Take advantage of the summer bounty and introduce your children to nature’s candy—peaches, berries, plums, apricots, and all the delicious hybrids under the sun. You can even puree these with yogurt and a little honey and turn them into ice pops for hot days. 

Teach Kids to Cook
Introduce a few healthy recipes featuring fresh produce as a fun summer activity. Hummus is an easy, quick recipe, as are smoothies. Involving your kids in cooking is another great bonding activity. I remember “cooking” with my mother when I was a very little girl, and how the thrill of being fed little nibbles of raw vegetables with a grind of sea salt even made raw cauliflower seem like a Big Treat.

Incorporate Veggies into Tasteful Meals
Trick little ones into eating their vegetables! Well-seasoned veggie stir-frys, summer pastas with sautéed vegetables, and fruit salads are wonderful ways to introduce fruits and vegetables to picky eaters.

Fruit is in the trees, vegetables are on the vine, and change is in the air. Summer is here. The time is ripe for you and your children to reap the benefits.

Here are a few recipes to help get you started.

Yogurt Dip
3 cups whole-milk yogurt
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey

Drain yogurt in a paper-towel-lined sieve set over a bowl, chilled, 3 hours.
Pulse all ingredients in a blender until mint is finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, at least 3 hours.

Makes about 1 cup of hummus

1 cup canned chickpeas
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
1 small garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Cucumber, sliced
Cherry tomatoes, quartered 
Carrot sticks

Process the garlic in the food processor until it's minced. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and pulse until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and carrots for dipping.