Thursday, December 8, 2011

cinnamon chip scones

The holiday season is upon us! Here is a simple recipe that is sure to bring comfort and cheer to any morning or tea time snack. These freeze up really well so you can put some away for holiday mornings, gatherings with friends, or when things get a little hectic and you need a delicious treat to calm the nerves. Hope you are all having fun!
Cinnamon Chip Scones:
2 cups flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cinnamon chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/4 -1 1/2 cup whipping cream
mix all ingredients with a spoon. Dust your hands with flour and knead the mixture 4-5 times. pat out into a nice fat circle on a cookie sheet. cut into pie shapes while keeping the circle intact. It will look like a wheel. If you have a scone pan then just pinch off pieces of the dough and place them in the pan. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes or until golden.
You are just going to love these with a hot cup of coffee or tea!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

quick thanksgiving dinner for a smaller crowd

I hope you all are enjoying the beautiful crisp Autumn days we have been having. This is my favorite time of the year! The food, the gatherings, the upcoming holidays----I have been busy in my craft room and kitchen creating all sorts of goodies for the holiday season. In fact, that is about all I have managed to get done since it now gets dark at 5:00! My brain has no interest in what time the clock says, it faithfully shuts down every day as soon as the sun begins setting. I can hardly believe it is time for Thanksgiving. I hope you all have a lovely holiday with friends and family. If you have a small gathering this year, here is a recipe that you make in the slow cooker that is simple and delicious. Thank you, Carol Sherwood from Batavia, NY for inventing such a savory delight!
Slow Cooker Turkey and Dressing:
1 box stuffing mix
1/2 cup hot water 
2 TBSP softened butter
1 chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery 
1/4 cup sweetened, dried cranberries
3-lb. boneless turkey breast
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1. Spread stuffing mix in greased slow cooker ( I use butter)
2. Add water, butter, celery,onion, and cranberries. Mix well.
3. Sprinkle turkey with basil and salt. place over stuffing mixture.
4. Cover. Cook on low 5-6 hours, or until turkey is done but not dry.
Serve and enjoy! 
Happy Turkey Day!

Friday, October 28, 2011

About Coupons

Once upon a time I tried to clip coupons to save money. I purchased just the cutest little coupon organizer that cost more than anything I saved. I spent a lot of time clipping and organizing and, occasionally, actually remembered to take my cute stash to the grocery store.  I would spend more time wandering up and down the isles looking for the discounted product. As I checked out, expecting to save at least $5, I realized that half of my coupons had expired. I quit clipping coupons. Recently I came across the Coupon Mom website and took a look. Now she has the right idea! She also does most of the work for you. I'm giving it a try because I know, that with a little discipline, I can potentially save a significant amount of money. Another good web site is Coupon Lady. This morning I received my Friday coupons in an e-mail from her website ready to print! I was especially pleased because they were foods that we really eat like MaraNatha nut butters and Kraft Parmesan Cheese. Check out these two videos and see what you think---if you aren't currently using coupons you might change your mind!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall Is Here- Time For Pumpkin Bread!

One of my favorite Autumn memories was watching my mom pull steaming cans of pumpkin bread from the oven when the leaves began to fall and the air turned chilly. Cans? Yes, she baked pumpkin bread in coffee cans that had been saved and rinsed out. She would bake some for us and then give a few cans to friends as a gift. Tape a piece of pretty paper around the can, replace the plastic lid and presto, the perfect gift container! If the domed loaves baked for us had lasted longer than the 10 minutes it took for them to be reduced to a few mere crumbles, they would have stayed fresh right in the can with the lid on. The warm half moon slices Mom served up with a nice spread of butter were beyond delicious and became a tradition that I carried on to my own family. Since coffee cans became generally plastic some years ago, I began baking the same recipe in mini loaf pans. My oldest daughter was at home recently and asked if she could borrow my coffee cans so that she could bake pumpkin bread at her house. She was a little sad when I told her that I had switched to mini loaves. The taste is the same, it is just that the memory of those sweet little cans coming out of the oven somehow became part of the tradition. There are some coffees that still come in tin cans but not many. I was pondering this dilemma while I was baking today when my eye settled on the empty 29 oz. tin pumpkin can sitting in the sink. Could it be? Hark, I think I may have found a coffee can alternative! Minus the lid. Plastic wrap works. I emptied a few more cans, filled them up with batter and, with great hope, placed them in the oven. It worked! Happy day! The delicious little half moons of my childhood pumpkin bread memories have returned. I think my girls will be pleased as well!
Here is the recipe my mom used all those years ago that has still remained a family favorite.
Pumpkin Bread
3 cups sugar 
1 cup veg. oil
2 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
4 beaten eggs ( I use 3/4 cup egg whites)
1/3 cup water
3 1/3 cup flour
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Blend all ingredients together.
Grease and flour ( or use Baker's Choice or Pam baking spray) 4 one pound coffee cans or 
4  29oz. tin pumpkin cans or 4 mini loaf pans.
Divide the batter into the 4 vessels of choice and fill 2/3 of the way full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour depending on oven. 
(a wooden toothpick inserted into center of bread will come out clean)
Let stand for 15 minutes and then remove from loaf pans/ cans.
This recipe freezes beautifully and the smaller size makes such a nice little gift---that is, if it makes it out of your kitchen!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn Home Decor

I love perusing the catalogs that find their way to my house for home decor ideas. One look I really love is old books stacked and tied with twine. Actually, the displays I have seen take off the outer covers and display the worn looking pages. I love that look too. To buy them from the boutiques or home decor companies will cost you anywhere from $40-$50 for a stack of three. I have bookshelves full of old books that worked just as well. A trip to antique and thrift shops is also an option to supply you with less expensive old books. I really tried to tear off the covers but I just couldn't. I tea dyed kitchen twine and tied up my little stack with covers and bindings intact. I love the the worn texture. I also loved that I could add a little color and interest to my Autumn decor with something I already had! Who knew old books would be so "In"!
Candles create such a cozy atmosphere. The mesmerizing pirouette of that happy little flame brightens up any room. To me, the soothing aroma coaxes me to a relaxed state of mind. I need to relax. I need a lot of candles.  If you live locally, Shaker Tree in Garrettsville has stocked the shop full of gorgeous Autumnal home decor. I think they have the best selection of amazing candles that will add a cheery glow the moment you touch a flame to the wick. Happy Decorating!
/Users/leboquilt/Desktop/01 Simple Gifts _ Lovely Love.m4a

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Carrot Cake in Miniature

Sometimes I find the most challenging issue when cooking for two people is dessert. I really adore desserts but, since the kids have grown up and flown the nest, dessert portions are too big. I don't need an entire cake hanging around. I will eat it. For breakfast. A little snack. Lunch. A treat for getting the laundry done. And of course, a sweet for after dinner. One evening I really wanted to bake a carrot cake. I have certain food allergies, specifically egg yolks and vanilla bean, which puts a kibosh on most bakery items from the store. If I want to enjoy a piece of cake without paying an unpleasant price later I need to make it myself.
I got out my favorite recipe for carrot cake and started doing the math. I only really needed a quarter of the recipe for the two of us. Some measurements were a bit of a guess but,what the heck--it will turn out or it won't. I baked the cakes in two 4 1/2 " ramekins. I am sure that anything up to about 6" would be fine. I then stacked and frosted them. Just the perfect size for two and delicious! I could hardly wait to share my recipe with all of you!
Here it is:
Wee Carrot Cake for Two:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
egg whites from 2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. imitation vanilla
3/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup pecans
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Mix oil, sugar and eggs. Add dry ingredients. Mix. Add carrots, nuts and vanilla. Pour into two greased
4 1/2 inch oven safe ramekins. bake for 30 minutes or until tooth pick inserted to center of cakes come out clean. Allow to cool and then frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup softened butter
4 oz cream cheese
8 oz. powdered sugar
1 tsp. artificial vanilla
tiny pinch of salt
1/4 cup chopped nuts
Blend all ingredients except nuts and spread between layers, on top and sides of cake. Garnish with nuts. Refrigerate.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did! I am also excited to have a new distraction---creating Sweet Morsels in Miniature! I will share them with you as I bake them!
Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Funky Functional Flair for Our Feet

My friend, Laura, came over yesterday and she had on the CUTEST shoes. I had a very hard time not snatching them right off her sweet little feet. She must have sensed my struggle because she politely asked me if I would like to try them on. Yes! Oh, but only if you insist. "Hello, my adorable commodious friends ---I think I love you." If you don't already know about them then, please, let me introduce you to Sanuks. I went to their web site and discovered that "Sanuk" is the Thai word for fun and happiness. That pretty much sealed the deal. I like fun just as much as I like happiness. I ordered them on Zappos and was astonished when they arrived today! SO cute and comfy. Sanuk describes their sandals and loafers as "funky functional". I would like to add "funky functional with flair"! Perfect shoes to transition into fall. Look them up on the Sanuk website and see what you think. I love them and recommend them AND I'm not being paid by any one to say so!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Delicious Barbecue Brisket

 Summer is yawning and nudging Autumn to come wrap us up in her colorful cozy quilt. Can you sense it? Although my friends down south are still sweltering in the heat, the weather is beginning to cool here in Ohio. We are sleeping with the windows open more often. The high school band can be heard rehearsing in the distance. School buses make getting to town a sluggish affair. The last vegetables are in from the garden and their green stalks are weary and fading. The bag of charcoal on the porch is empty. I don't know about you, but I am ready to put the garden to bed for the season and I'm just about done grilling outside for awhile. I always love winding the summer down with a barbecue dinner. There is something so gratifying about piling up a plate with barbecue brisket, sweet corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes fresh from the garden (or from the grocery store is just fine), and buttermilk biscuits dripping with butter and honey. I usually top it off with the peach cobbler that I posted about previously. A splendid summer wrap-up.
My dad still makes the best barbecue brisket I have ever eaten. He spends hours smoking the meat on his charcoal grill---always keeping a watchful eye lest his masterpiece be less than spectacular. It is always spectacular. He then slices it, places the tender smokey succulence in a pan, bathes it in just enough barbecue sauce, covers the pan with tin foil and cooks it in the oven for a few more hours. I love his barbecue---I just do not have the skill or patience to replicate it. Long ago, my mother came to my rescue with a fabulous recipe that is just mouth watering. It could never be as good as dad's but it certainly does satisfy the taste buds just fine. The perks to this recipe are that it is simple to throw together and it does not require grilling or smoking the meat beforehand. Love it!
 So, as a "so long to summer", here is my tried and true recipe for barbecue brisket:

Blue Ribbon BBQ Brisket:
4-8lb brisket
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. celery seed
1TBSP onion powder
1 TBSP black pepper
1 TBSP liquid smoke
 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1-2 Cups of your favorite barbecue sauce
Place brisket in an oven safe pan
Mix all other ingredients--pour over brisket---cover and marinate 6-8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator
Cover with heavy foil and bake at 350 degrees for 3 hours.
Uncover foil for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time to brown.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nifty Swifty

Was that bad to do? Sorry.
The fabulous gals from  Mason Dixon Knitting have done it again! In their second publication, Outside The Lines, a pattern is offered that I could not resist. Do you remember the darling ball-band dish rags that I mentioned in an earlier post? The ladies have figured out how to turn that rag into a cover for our Swiffers! It is my opinion that the "swifty" picks up hair, crumbs, dust, ect.... much better than the disposable covers you buy at the store. More importantly, they are TOO CUTE! Don't you think? No more buying box after box of paper covers for me! I knit up two: one that adorns my Swiffer and a second that is in the wash or linen closet---waiting to transform what was once an ordinary household tool into something fun and fabulously chic. The first Swifty knit up quickly. The second, well, as you can see, I had help so it took longer. I used Sugar and Cream 100% cotton yarn by Lily. The yarn can be found in craft stores or the craft section of Walmart for about $2.00 a ball. I used 4 colors (4 balls) and could have easily knit 3-4 swifties from the 4. The book is full of fun useful projects and the clever wit of Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne will keep you laughing! I love these ladies!!!  Here are Kay and Ann starring in a little video they created that perfectly captures the zany sense of humor the knitting books are so full of.

When I finally stopped laughing at the video, I decided it was time to make pickles!

 I chose cucumbers for my experimental veggie in the garden this year and discovered that, on any given day one may find 8-10 pounds of pickles gracing vines that one could have sworn were not there a few days ago. So, thanks to my daughter, Sarah and her friend, Hannah, we washed, sliced, boiled, spiced and canned 14 pints of Kosher Dill and Bread and Butter pickles. In my normal fashion, I did not read the recipe from the Ball recipe book all the way through before beginning the process and was a little deflated to find that we would have to wait 6 weeks to sample our efforts. Oh, well. In 6 weeks I will share recipes if they turn out!
In the mean time---I'm off to my craft room to create something pretty!
Don't forget that you can click on the highlighted words to be transported to the Mason-Dixon website
and Amazon for the book!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hex Nut Bracelet

My youngest daughter,Sarah, made me this very cool bracelet and I LOVE it! It is made from hex nuts and hemp.
So clever. So inexpensive. so hard-ware chicClick here to view the website with instructions for making your own bracelet. Thank you, Sarah, for keeping us all up to speed on hip adornments!
As you can see, I have been having fun in my craft room. However, I am having a difficult time finishing anything and this is why:
Meet Chloe.
She wandered into our next door neighbor's yard 3 weeks ago. She had recently had puppies as evidenced by certain sagging swinging lady parts and she was infested with fleas. She was so thin and very scared. Anytime someone would approach her, she would cower and crawl. Our wonderful Neighbors posted signs, advertised on several far-reaching web sites and posted in the local papers but no one seems to be looking for her. The vet said she is probably between 2-4 years old and puppies would have been about 8 weeks old and weaned. He felt she had been running free for at least a week and there was a strong possibility that she had been abused and was most likely "dropped off". She is such a tiny fragile looking little thing. He was amazed that she had survived the hawks, coyotes and foxes that frequent the woods in our neighborhoods. She certainly is brave and resourceful. The Neighbors kept her for a over a week and had her bathed for the fleas. The Humane Society would not take her because she was not injured or bleeding so, unfortunately, the next stop was going to be the pound. The Neighbors travel for months at a time and could not keep her. I don't know what happened but my heart just melted for this little gal and so I brought her home on a trial basis. She and Ky would have to be okay together and I wanted to make sure that she didn't have any severe personality issues. She is the sweetest thing and I just adore her. She follows me everywhere and is very cuddly! I still search the papers for lost adds but am secretly relieved when there are no postings for her. I am quite baffled---I thought I didn't like small dogs! Well, Chloe is rehabilitating nicely and I am reformed.
So, I have been spending a lot of time acclimating Chloe to her new home instead of being domestic but I am good with that.
Speaking of domestic, I have a cleaning tip from my friend, Vicki:

For those of us at a certain age who must rely on mega-magnification mirrors to apply our make-up, pluck brows or observe for undesirable growths----DO NOT clean the mirror. It is perfectly acceptable to leave that film of hairspray and random fingerprints as long as the rest of the bath room is clean and tidy. Removing this film might reveal realities that we just aren't quite ready to embrace yet. Vicki said that she made the mistake of cleaning her mirror not long ago and received quite a shock. So, thank you, Vicki for another encouraging and helpful hint.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lake House Peach Cobbler

I have always been very fond of peach cobbler. I have tried a number of different recipes over the years, many of them time intense and complicated. I came across this simple delight about 15 years ago and, hands down, it is my favorite. It receives rave reviews any time I serve it and goes well with just about any meal. I always keep a can of peaches in my pantry because it is also terrific for those last minute occasions!
It is perfect for our Lake House state of mind because it is SO simple. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Peach Cobbler
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup milk
1 15oz can sliced peaches in light syrup
Preheat oven to 350.
Melt butter in casserole dish while oven is preheating.
Mix together flour,sugar, baking powder, salt and milk.
Pour over melted butter---do not stir!
Pour entire can of peaches,including juice, over mixture. Again, do not stir!
I sprinkle the top with cinnamon-sugar and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until crust is golden. 
Fantastic served warm with a nice dollop of vanilla ice cream!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Thought

As I approach 50, I sometimes think about what I might be doing or where I might be now if life circumstances had been different, if I had made different choices along the way or if I had been more courageous in some of my ambitions.Would I have a better skill set or more courage to try out some of the things that I want to do in the second half of my life if things had been different? Make no mistake, I have a lovely life and it is not entirely by good fortune that this is so. Still, I wonder sometimes. I was out "treasure hunting" for one of my current projects recently and came across this this card. It spoke to me. It pretty much answered my question. I am reminded that, regardless of age, right this moment is the time to become everything we want or  have wanted to be. Period. No excuses. I almost wrote something witty like---"fortunately, I have no desire to be a fashion model."But, on second thought, if that was truly something that I had a passion for, then why the heck not! I wonder if there are others who have dusty dreams and ideas tucked away in a safe place---intriguing to gaze and ponder upon now and again but too intimidating to actually grab hold of and swim in the deep end with. You know, out where we can't feel the security of the ground beneath us.The place that we will have to actually break free from our comfort zones and learn to swim. Hey, I have an idea. Let's take those little beauties out of hiding, hold them tight and take the plunge! I'll be the one out there with the chic over sized floaties dog paddling towards the refreshing beverage barge----in the deep end. What ever it takes and however we get there---let's just do it!
I will return soon with project ideas that I have been finishing up, an important domestic tip from my friend,Vicki (the wise woman who encouraged us that cobwebs are actually Amish lace and quite fashionable) and an introduction to a new little friend of mine that you may just fall in love with!
Until then, don't forget -----RIGHT NOW is the perfect time!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

from the herb garden

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to work in my herb garden. Every year, I read about new herbs and their possible uses. Then, I pick three or four of my favorites and add them to the garden. Fresh herbs taste so good in just about anything edible and their wonderful aromas keep me smiling. Lately, I have been exploring other herb uses. Have I ever been having fun in the kitchen mixing up fragrant concoctions that aren't just for cooking! After a long hard day, there is nothing quite as nice as a long luxurious soak in the tub. I mean the kind of bath that when you sink down into the warm steamy depths there is nothing more to say than--- Ahhhhhhhhhh. Add a few extra ingredients to that bath and you will feel the stress, aches and fatigue of the day melt away. Surprisingly, the extra ingredients I am speaking of have nothing to do with adult beverages. I would like to introduce you to my new bath time favorite----bath tea. I researched all sorts of herbal bath recipes and came up with an ingredient combination of my own. I call it a bath tea because, once the ingredients are mixed, I scoop it into tea pockets that you can find at most specialty tea shops. I got mine from Teavana. I have included some of the supposed benefits of each herb just for fun. Who knows, maybe there is something truly therapeutic in the use of herbs and aromatherapy! If nothing else, the fragrance is divine and the salts soothe my achy muscles.
The mixture is very simple to put together and the results have me wanting to take baths several times a day.
Aromatic Bath Tea
1/2 cup Epsom salt
1/2 cup sea salt
1/4 cup baking soda
3/4 cup total of any or all of these fresh herbs
       Basil- relieves mental stress
       Sage- restores energy. Used in the bath to relieve labor
                   pains and the discomforts of menopause.
                  Supposedly, sage incites wisdom so I added 
       Rosemary- relieves mental fatigue and sore muscles
5 drops Geranium Essential Oil- calming, balancing,uplifting
5 drops Sweet Orange EO- calming. Promotes happiness. 
                                          Let's just make that 8 drops.
10 drops Lavender EO- relieves stress, headache,muscle
                                    soreness, and insomnia

Mix all ingredients together in a food processor (this chops the fresh herbs. I put in leaves and stems)
Spoon into tea pouches and fold over the flap. You could also use muslin bags with tie strings.
Hang the bag from the faucet of your bath tub and let the warm water flow through it.

Enjoy being swept away to a steamy fragrant ambience of bliss and relaxation! 
When you are done, toss the tea bag containing the fresh herb remains in the compost pile.  
Hope you are having a wonderful summer!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Got Soap?

Not long ago I saw the most amazing apothecary jar filled with miniature soaps in a catalog. I loved it! It would be perfect in my master bath. I really wanted it. I knew that I should see if a similar product could be found at a better price but my inner impulsive voice began to speak. What if other home decor companies did not carry anything resembling this chic concept? What if,while searching and coming up empty handed, the very last amazing apothecary jar was purchased by some one else? It does happen, you know. All the time. Before I could stop myself, my fingers had proceeded to the shopping cart check-out and pressed purchase! Oops. Was that bad to do? Oh, well. Next, the soap. Let's see, I should need a couple of dozen or so for the large apothecary. Yikes! Those little soaps are oh so cute but pricey. What to do? Thankfully, I remembered all of the miniature soaps we have collected from hotels while traveling that were stashed away in the linen closet. Brilliant! I ran upstairs and pulled the overflowing basket from the shelf and was pleased to see that, not only would the soaps fit perfectly in my new apothecary jar, they were also a nice variety of colors, fragrances, and shapes. I love the way they look in the bathroom. I do not anticipate needing to buy bath soap at all in the near future! Every time someone in the family travels, I will become the happy recipient of hotel toiletries and restock the jar. If you would like to display your own collection of bath soaps, you can find all sorts of really pretty containers that are fairly inexpensive. I paid extra for instant gratification but you need not worry that you won't find the container of your dreams. I, of course, saw all kinds of similar apothecary jars the next week for a fraction of the cost at craft and discount retail stores. Did I mention that I do not anticipate purchasing bath soap in the near future? The cut glass decanter sitting next to the soap display is filled with mouth wash! My clever friend, Laura, introduced me to the idea. I purchased the decanter at an antique store for $5.00. What are some bath decor ideas that you have seen or use? Any ideas for fun guest bath ideas?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lake House Summer

I do not actually own a lake house. However, after all of the major clean-up that has occurred at our humble abode over the last four weeks, I need one. I have decided, now that the house is in order, that I am going to enjoy what I call a Lake House Summer. It is not really a place---it is an attitude. It is a vacation  state- of- mind that you can go to every day after the work is done. When I announced my brilliant summer theme, the family exchanged "mom's not quite herself" glances, groaned at the thought of what "fun activities" I had dreamed up requiring their participation, and My Dear Man turned pale thinking that I actually wanted to buy a lake house. I assured them that what I had in mind was a summer of simplicity and relaxation. Simple meals, good books, open schedules and anything else that does not require extensive planning, hard work or stress. I knew the Youngest was completely on board when I mentioned sleeping-in-late every possible opportunity.
It is quite fortunate that I adopted this idea. We narrowly escaped a harrowing meltdown because of it.  Here is the tale: 
It was towards the end of week three of our renovation/spring cleaning adventure. I was tired. Bone tired. Every time we painted and refreshed one room, another area was illuminated that needed immediate attention and more cleaning. We have the sweetest banquette in our kitchen that was installed in the 1960's. It is very charming and has cushioned many a derriere at family gatherings. It is part of the family and I would never throw it out. Now that the kitchen was freshly painted and updated, the worn vinyl on the seats became a focal point that had not been so noticeable before. We removed the bench and sent it off to be recovered.The grout and floor tiles where the banquette had been looked me straight in the eye and chortled,"Well,well,well. Don't we look different from the rest of the tiles in the kitchen." Wow, that is the color they should be?  I had forgotten. Needless to say, something had to be done about the kitchen floor. I was informed by a certain someone that new flooring was not an option. I mopped with a little more gusto than usual. Nope. I washed an area vigorously with a wash cloth. Nothing. Remember, I am bone tired. I realized, with dread, that scrubbing with a bristle brush and then sealing the grout was the only way to restore the tiles to their original lustre. So, I began. Good grief, scrubbing is hard work. I was working up a good glow (ladies do not sweat). I had to take breaks. I had to have more snacks than usual to sustain myself. It was taking HOURS. Why did I not think to call Stanley Steamer? Towards the end of the grueling chore, the Youngest casually strolled in and began merrily singing "CinderLisa, CinderLisa". Really? How about,"Gee, Mom, I see that you are faint with fatigue ---could I help out? " I realized, as she stepped over me to get to the refrigerator, that these words were not in her vocabulary at the moment. The nerve. Please. Don't mind me down here on hands and knees----working like a slave so that we can have a nice home. I see that you have already exhausted yourself today laying in bed all morning watching u-tube videos. May I offer you a refreshing beverage? How about a rejuvenating wallop on the noggin with my Fairy Godmother Wand of Wrath? My private thoughts were interrupted when My Dear Man walked in and asked,"Have you thought about what we will be having for dinner tonight?" Good lord, man, we just had lunch. Look at me. I am "glowing" like a neon billboard sign and I have floor dents on my kneecaps. Do I look like a woman who has thought about dinner? Danger. Danger. Sailors be warned--- a storm is brewing and she's gonna be a big one.
photo by Meg
For the safety of all, I checked myself. I remembered my glorious theme for the summer. It was time to activate Operation Lake House Summer. I took a deep breath and put the scrub brush away for another day. We ordered pizza for dinner that night and took a long walk. It was wonderful. All is well. The house is in order, the flower beds are now weed-free and the garden is planted.
 Here is an invitation from me to you: If you find that your flair for the domestic is on the verge of a flop, take a break! Join me for my Lake House Summer state- of- mind. We are going to have fun!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Hello all!
Today we had a young man come in to refresh the domestic flair around our house with paint, various household repairs and an over-all downstairs "face lift". While taking down drapes and curtain rods, I noticed quite an accumulation of , of, well......dusty grunge with a hint of gross. Alas, it seems my house has been harboring unnoticed guests----for a very long time from the looks of it. So, I have decided to take a few weeks away from my blog to do a thorough spring cleaning while walls are bare and furniture is pulled out.
I will return June 6th with fun new projects, summer reading list thoughts, recipes and a vacation frame-of-mind attitude. Please come back to see me and let's talk Summer!
I will leave you with this handy tip that I received from my sweet and quite brilliant friend, Vicki:
The delicate strands of web-like matter lurking in hard-to-reach areas of your home ARE NOT cob webs.
They are called Amish Lace.
Whew, I feel so much better knowing that. Thank you,Vicki!
See you all soon!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Let them eat marshmallows!

Pineapple Pottery Server 
One of my favorite evenings at the Workt by Hand workshop was our "heavy hors d'oeuvres" gathering at the Hotel Gallery in  Tipp City, Ohio. Tipp is a fun eclectic town with antiques, chic shops, good restaurants and very talented craftsmen selling their artwork. It is about 30 minutes north of Dayton. It left an impression on me. I will be returning this summer to do some more exploring! The Hotel Gallery was once a charming old hotel that now houses some of the most beautiful pottery I have seen locally. In addition to pottery, I purchased some lovely hand blown stemless wine glasses. The owner asked if I might like to have my purchased glass filled with wine. Well, yes, I do believe I would!
Jackie, Me and Kim
 A few of us proceeded outside to the campfire ring and were just settled into conversation when the owner came out with a bag of marshmallows and a chocolate bar. Best customer service I have had---ever! My friend, Kim, is the best marshmallow roaster on earth because not one single puff was burned. We had no graham crackers so we attempted to wedge the warm gooey marshmallow between little squares of chocolate without making a big mess. Denied! Lady-like manners were thrown to the wind but we did try. One of our teachers, Alice Strebel,came along to join us. She took a roasted marshmallow and in one impressive motion pushed her square of chocolate neatly into the middle of the melted pillow of deliciousness. Well, I never! Kim, Jackie and I realized that Alice's talent went far beyond her art work. I have forever changed my technique for making Smors! How many of you out there knew to do this? The chocolate was so perfectly melted. I nearly swooned. Forget the food inside.
Roasted marshmallows with chocolate are my new heavy hors d'oeurves of choice. They go quite nicely with a medicinal glass of wine. Really. You must.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A good day to Ruche

Today it is cold and rainy so I have a fire in the fire place to chase away the damp and drearies.
This is my buddy, Ky, who is hoping that I will hurry up and sit down for a minute so that she can relax a bit. Today is a good day to play with a new technique (new to me!) that I learned at Workt By Hand. Ruching! Ruche (roosh) is an ancient french technique which means to plait or gather. I am going to give you a little tutorial on this fantastic embellishment.
No sewing machine required!
Basically, you take a strip of ribbon or fabric, place a running stitch through it in a triangular pattern, and pull the thread to gather the stitches. This forms little scallops or petals. Really really simple and so sweet. Ready to try? Here we go!
Click on the pictures if you would like a closer look.

For demo purposes I will use a length of ribbon

1.   Thread a needle with regular thread (color of thread does not matter) and knot the end.
2. Beginning at the top corner, bring the needle up through the back of the strip and sew a basting stitch diagonally to the bottom of the strip. The width diagonally can be wider or narrower depending on how large you want the scallop to be. Note here that I ended my stitch on the back side of the ribbon. I am now going to bring the thread from the back and over the top to begin my next set of basting stitches diagonally back up to the top.
3. See how the stitches form a triangular pattern? Note that here, I have ended my stitch on the front side of the ribbon. Now, I will take my thread from the front of the ribbon under to the backside and begin my next set of stitches. It doesn't matter a bit where you end stitches--either the front or the back--just remember the appropriate starting point for your next stitch set.
4. Every 2-3 triangles you will want to pull your thread to gather the strip. You have just ruched! Continue ruching until you have gathered your strip to a desired length.
Rouching Fabric Strips
If you do not want frayed edges you will need to press and fold your fabric strip to encase the raw edges.

Use the same method of stitching and gathering.
So sweet!

I am using my ruched fabric strips to create little blossoms on my Workt by Hand project.
Here, I have ruched ribbon and couched it with bullion stitches. It is going to be a little tree on another project I am working on. I think the bullion stitches look like little pink and purple blossoms!

I love to ruche. It sounds ever so fancy too.
"What are you doing there, Lisa?"
"Oh, I'm just sipping tea and doing a touch of rouching."
 Thoroughly sophisticated, right?
I just think the possibilities are endless----what have you ruched? I would love to see your ideas!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Workt By Hand 2011

I have just returned from a fabulous workshop called Workt By Hand. Artists Alice Strebel, Melissa Becker, Sally Korte and Sue Spargo have hosted this workshop for the last nine years. Click on the highlighted names to see their websites. I sure am glad I found out about Workt by Hand in time to go this year! 
The project this year was a wool pillow bolster.The artists designed a general idea and then each of them created their own interpretation of said idea. They did not see what each had created until they met for the workshop. Our challenge---take the same bolster theme, ideas from each of the artists, our own ideas, a lot of fun fibers and embellishments and---fly! All of the women present were incredibly talented and inspiring. Attendees were from places like Australia, New Zealand, New York, Ohio, the Carolina's, Florida....and so forth! I made new friends, ate cupcakes, shopped, stitched and embarrassed myself by missing my chair when I went to sit down. You see, we had just received our surprise bonus project on Thursday night and I guess I was a little excited.  There is so much to share with you that I am going to spend the next week blogging about the event, the town, techniques I learned  that you may like to know and the progress I am making putting my project together.

                         Here are a few tidbits for today:
Thursday's Surprise Bonus Project
I really like surprises!
This project is a cute little folk artsy bird needle keep. You can see why I slightly miscalculated my chair landing--especially since, as you can see, coffee and cupcakes where involved.
My project is started!

Close-up of embellishments
This is the way magnolia blossoms look on my planet! And no, those are not eyes-- they are a work in progress. Maybe they will stay, maybe they will disappear--we will see.
I'll be back with more soon!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Feather their nest with flair

Joy ,oh, joy! The sun is shining and my magnolias are beginning to bloom! I adore magnolia trees. Their sweet aroma makes me smile and linger in the garden just a little longer. I also love watching all of the cheerful little birds that find their way to my back yard. For years I have saved the snippets from my knitting, sewing, stitching and quilting projects through out the winter in an old Ball canning jar.  When nesting season begins, I place some dryer lint along with tidbits of yarn and string in a small wire bird feeder and hang it out for my new feathered neighbors to use in their homes.Even the birds seem to have a flair for the domestic! It is so much fun to find empty nests later in the season that have been adorned with the bits of brightly colored fibers my resourceful little friends have used from my "snippet stash"! This is a fun and simple project that provides a way to recycle and repurpose. It is fun to do with children as a spring activity. Try it! You will like it and so will the birds that take up residency in your own back yard! What garden ideas do you have to welcome spring?

Monday, April 18, 2011

home made laundry soap

Today is one of those days. According to my to-do list I should be cleaning up the house. I don't want to.
Instead, I am enjoying a cup of coffee while flipping through the pages of the April addition of Southern Living Magazine. All of the delicious recipes and pictures of cottage gardens make me think of planning my garden. This inspires me to look at my to-do list again. No garden planning listed. Then I decide it would be fun to put together the college care package I was planning to send to my youngest in Colorado. Ahhhh---mountains, fresh air, fresh smells--- Oh! one of the care package items is the cutest laundry bag---I know, I'll make a little bag of great smelling homemade laundry soap to tuck into the package. Of course, I'll need to make some cute little tags to adorn that little bag of soap. Oh how the mind wanders.
Here is my recipe for powdered laundry soap. It is easy, economical, safe for the environment and a lot more fun to make than cleaning house! I use this in my front load HE machine and it works great.
Lavender - Orange Laundry Soap
1 cup  20 Mule Team Borax
1 cup  Washing Soda ( not baking soda! You can find it on the laundry detergent isle)
2/3 bar Fels Naptha or plain Ivory soap - heck, just throw in the whole bar--who wants a 1/3 bar of soap hanging around!
5-10 drops lavender essential oil
5-8 drops sweet orange essential oil
Cut up bar soap into course chunks with a knife. Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend.

That is all there is to it. Now that I have thoroughly distracted myself from doing what I should be doing, I'll go give that list another look!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

White Chocolate Snack Mix

White Chocolate Snack Mix
A few years ago I discovered this sweet addiction at a Holiday Open House.

 I made up a batch and sent it off with The Mister to his holiday pot luck at work. It was a hit! The next year the ladies he works with requested that he bring back another batch as his pot luck contribution. These women are truely such special people so I happily whipped up enough for each shift to munch on. Since then, this salty/sweet confection has brightened parties, pot lucks and college care packages. I enjoy making it because I know folks are going to enjoy eating it! It is super easy and quick to make. In the past, I have made batch after batch to celebrate the winter holidays.
I can't wait until winter. 

I'm thinking--spring is a holiday! 
I'll just substitute pastel colored M&M's and, PRESTO, Spring White Chocolate Snack Mix
Try it!
You will love it and so will the lucky special someones that you make it for.
   Here is the recipe:
White Chocolate Snack Mix
1 10 oz. pkg. mini twist pretzels broken up a bit
5 cups Cheerios
5 cups Corn or Rice Chex
2 cups salted cashews
1 14 0z. pkg. M&Ms
2  12 oz. pkg. white chocolate chips
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
 1. Combine pretzels, cereals, nuts, and M&Ms in a large bowl. I 
     use a big turkey roaster.
2. Melt white chocolate chips and oil in pan over low heat until 
    smooth and creamy.
3.Pour melted white chocolate over cereal mixture and stir.
4. Spread onto 2 baking sheets that have been lined with 
    parchment or wax paper. 
    Allow to cool, then, break apart into course clumps of 
    taste bud happiness!
    Store in an air tight container.
                           How easy is that?