Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 2016

April Showers Bring May Flowers!



This is a special blog for me.  One of the places that has been on my Bucket List for years is Charleston, S.C.  I've always wanted to see the South maybe because Gone With The Wind is my favorite movie.  Even if it wasn't it was a wonderful getaway.  It only took 1 1/2 hours to fly down from JFK.  

I love porches not decks!  Almost every house in Charleston has not just one porch but many.  


And they aren't just on the front of the house, they're on the side too!!  I pictured myself on a chase lounge on a summer night sitting outside on my porch!  Oh, with a glass of sweet tea with a nip of Firefly vodka like all the southern belles drink here!  


The shopping was fantastic.  This is the beginning of City Market.  King Street is the other great destination for all kinds of shopping.


We were told to stop in Amen Street Cafe for lunch.  It was sooo good!!  The oyster shooters were to die for!!!


Charleston is full of good food and good drinks.  We tried The Holy Basil.  See below!  Wonderful!!  I'm making them this summer!!

  
Here's the recipe!


Yes, don't worry, we did plenty of eating too!  In Charleston you can go the fish route OR you can go for the real down home southern cooking.  This restaurant specialized in fish so started with a platter of oysters, shrimp and clams.  Then we had shrimp and grits and cheviche.  I had grits years ago in Nassau and I didn't like them.  But not here, they were absolutely delicious!


It was incredibly difficult to pick just a few of the highlights of a trip and pictures that told such a beautiful story.  The following is a very brief overview of the plantations we loved and why!

This is Magnolia Plantation.  It's Charleston's most visited plantation and absolutely gorgeous.  It was founded by the Drayton family in 1676.  When you go inside you can picture the grandeur of how these people lived.


One of the things I wanted to see the most was the Spanish moss hanging off of the trees.  They are so beautiful and abundant everywhere not just on these beautiful plantations.


Magnolia Plantation is known for their beautiful gardens.  While I was taking this photo I pictured Scarlett and her beaus getting in and out of their carriages.


To go from such grandeur to the slave houses on this little street just yards away from the big house left us with a feeling I will never forget.   


  It was sad, quiet and somber here.  This is a piece of history no one wants to think about but here in the south they embrace it and talk about it and everyone accepts it.



This is Drayton Hall.  Built in the early 1750's it's the oldest preserved plantation house in America.  


No words can describe the beauty of this land when you're physically here.


This is the back of the house.


 The gardens lead to the Ashley River. 


As long as we were out this way doing the plantations we were told by everyone to go to Angel Oak Restaurant for lunch.  The young couple who own this restaurant moved from New York to open this little adorable little place.


And this is real southern home cookin!!!  Starters - Cheese biscuits with pimento cheese dip.  To die for!!!  Plus fried green tomatoes which had spicy red pepper gastrique that was just the right amount of heat to make them unbelievable!!


Next of course - fried chicken, collard greens and cole slaw.  Again, no words to describe this!  Chris didn't know if he ever had fried chicken before and if I did it I can't remember either.  But we'll never forget that chicken!!  Then we had to try the mac and cheese.  The bottom of this cast iron skillet had the most tender BBQ pulled pork.  The mac and cheese was creamy and perfect and there was homemade bacon chunks on top!  NO WORDS!!


So you can go away from home but there's always something that brings you back.  I have these dishes and I have these chips on several!!  Life is so funny sometimes. I just paused and thought wow, who would have thought I'd see these old plates that my mom passed down to me here!  We use them everyday just like they do!!


Here's a little glimpse of Angel Oak Restaurant.  I would fly down tomorrow just to go back there!!!


So in my little world no matter how stuffed you are there's always room for dessert!  And these were the best beignets.  Hot and light as a feather!!  The chocolate caramel dipping sauce made them even better if possible.  After this lunch you would think we needed a good long sleep but...


There were more plantations to see!  This is Boone Hall Plantation.  This plantation reminded me the most of Tara in Gone With The Wind.  I think mostly because of the long driveway.


Looking out from inside the gate I pictured all of the horse drawn carriages pulling up for a big party.  


As you go through the slave quarters you see these beautiful baskets that are still made today all over the South.  The slaves made them to collect and wash the rice they picked from the fields. 


When I came upon these quilts I was mesmerized.



This is one of the actual quilts that were made and used by the slaves on this plantation.


And this was someone's handmade doll.  


I don't know if anyone leaves those quarters without tears in their eyes.


Years ago I read all of Dorothea Benton Frank's novels about the South.  She writes beautiful novels about family life on Sullivan's Island and Folly Beach.  We were able to fit this visit into our trip and I loved every second of walking along the beach picking shells.


I'm going back and renting one of those cottages on the beach.  We were told that as long as you go before Easter and after Labor Day they are "pennies on the dollar to rent".  BTW- the locals said that is the best time to come because summers are horrible here between the heat and the bugs.

Here's looking one way down the beach...


And here's looking the other.


Yes, I came upon a quilt shop!!  I think it was the only one in the area.  And I bought some really fabulous things.  I only hope I have time to do something with them!


Here are a few of the treasures I brought home!  The doll in the forefront I bought at Boone Hall.  The doll in the background was bought first at Magnolia Plantation.  I was only able to buy a little basket because they are all handmade and very expensive.  That's a straw palmetto flower which are native to S.C.


Here are a few other treasures.  I have them out and they make me smile. 


Charleston is welcoming, friendly and there's so much to do.  We could go back again and do more and never be bored.  This is SNOB - Slightly North of Broad Restaurant.  It exudes southern warmth and hospitality.  There is really something for everyone here and if you haven't been here already it's a trip worth taking!


Thanks for visiting and see you soon!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring 2016

Spring 2016?

I've been thinking about Spring the past few weeks when the temps got into the 70's.  Good thing you can't get angry with Mother Nature because it's cruel to get a snowstorm the first day of Spring!  I was ALMOST thinking of washing my car this weekend that's how much I was in mood for Spring


When I was little (NOT GOING TO SAY THE YEARS) my mom would get me all dressed up for Easter.  I always wore a new outfit with hat and gloves.  And of course new patent leather shoes and pocketbook to match.  AND I always had a doll with me.  Everyone in my generation will remember dressing up for Easter.  After church we'd make the rounds of all the relatives and then have a big festive dinner either at our house or at a relative's house.  Funny as you get older, you can't remember what you did last week but some of those childhood memories live with you forever.



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When Chris and I got married his mom gave me all of his childhood bunnies.  They live all year long in our hutch.


I don't know if he liked bunnies or...


his mom liked bunnies...


but somebody in that house liked bunnies! 



*  *  *  *

I was going to post some spring recipes today BUT since it's really cold out and going to snow I'm in the mood for chili and cornbread.  Here's two of the best recipes I have and believe me I have thousands!  The chili recipe is from a cookbook Chris used when he was single.  We still use that cookbook and I'll be posting another fabulous recipe from it soon.

  I didn't start out to make this post so nostalgic but I think the holidays subconsciously always bring it on for me.  We all go on when we lose our loved ones because we know that's what they would want but it never gets easier.  Easter has always seemed to me to be a more somber holiday.  It's commercialized like everything else but there's still meaning to this holiday if you're a Christian.

The beauty of this chili is it's nice and thick so we use it in nachos and tacos and even over rice.  It's fantastic left over and freezes beautifully.

Betty Crocker's Cookbook (1986)


AND I always love to make cornbread with chili.  This is the recipe that appears on the back of the Quaker Oats Cornmeal canister.



Golden Corn Bread
Quaker Cooking

Servings: 9
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 23 minutes

Side Dish INGREDIENTS:
1 Cup(s) Quaker® Yellow or White Corn Meal
1 Cup(s) all-purpose flour
2 to 4 Tablespoon(s) Sugar
4 Teaspoon(s) Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon(s) Salt
1 Cup(s) milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 Cup(s) vegetable oil

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 425° F. Grease 8-inch square pan with solid vegetable shortening or non-stick cooking spray. In large bowl, combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk, egg and oil. Beat until fairly smooth, about 1 minute. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 20 to 23 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serving Tips: Muffins or Corn Sticks - Pour corn bread batter into greased or paper-lined muffin cups OR hot, well-greased corn stick pans. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. YIELD: 12 muffins or about 14 corn sticks. Mexican Corn Bread - Stir 1 cup whole kernel corn, 2 tablespoons chopped green chilies and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder into batter. Bake in greased (with solid shortening) or non-stick cooking sprayed 8-inch square pan for 22 to 25 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; top with 1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.


*  *  *  *

So sadly all good things must come to an end and

Downton Abbey was one of them. I had to treat

 myself to a few remembrances:




I love this pillow!




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Finally, being a Hamden Arts Commissioner has many great moments.  Last weekend Steve Kazlauskas and his band "Echoes of Sinatra" came to sing at the Peter C. Herald Sunday Performances.  He was fantastic.  I recorded a few of his songs and they were all amazing.  One of the ladies who attended said she closed her eyes and thought he was Frank.  When no one falls asleep you know you've got a good performance!  We were dancing in the back!  When he played my favorite song I was in Heaven.  There's something about listening to "Summer wind" that puts me in a real happy place.  I really want to share this with you so take a minute and please listen.  If you're a Sinatra fan you're in for a treat!




Below Steve is on the left in the back.  Since Thornton Wilder Hall Stage is home to many events there's always something in the wings.  Last Sunday it happened to be a bull.  These guys are so funny and so much fun they insisted on a photo of themselves with this bull.  I think if they could have taken the bull they would have!  This Sunday series is really wonderful.  It's open to everyone so keep watching the Hamden Arts Commission postings for great bands and come on down when you can!



Happy Easter!  Happy Spring!  Thanks for visiting!



Saturday, February 20, 2016

February 2016

So far this winter the weather has been really pleasant compared to the last few years.  Except for a few days of snow it's even been mild.  I'm still banking on a little more snow before I change my house over to Spring but I'm getting pretty itchy to start doing that.



Some years when the weather doesn't cooperate it's hard to go shopping for winter essentials like quilt fabric.  When I'm not off exploring quilt shops everywhere I'm lucky to have a wonderful quilt shop over in the next town.

This is Yankee Cloth.  Nancy is the owner.  She's extremely helpful and full of wonderful ideas!

411 Center Street, Wallingford, CT

 I love this old restored house.  It's gorgeous and even more beautiful inside.  It's meticulous with gleaming hardwood floors and shelf after shelf of endless bolts of beautiful fabric from all of the fabric companies we love.  The shop has lots of books, notions, patterns etc.  One of the best things about this shop is so many of the patterns are finished and displayed.  I get in so much trouble because I want everything I see.  I always go overboard but that's the fun of shopping at a good quilt shop.  You're supposed to want to do that!  It's got all the goodies we love and if you can't find something Nancy orders it for you!


Whenever Sue goes to Yankee she buys Nancy out of these $2 scrap bags.  I always know when she's been there because the bin is almost empty.  I never paid attention to these little bags until...


I realized I could do so many fun scrappy things with this fabric AND it's all coordinated.  And there's a good amount of fabric in them! So now after I've shopped I always go over to the bin and pick out these little bags!


I had a little time to play recently and decided to see exactly what I could make with the fabric from my scrap bags.

I've wanted to make this potholder since I saw it on Freda's Hive blog.  BTW - I love this blog - check it out!

http://fredashive.blogspot.com/2009/01/doll-house-potholder-tutorial.html

I plan to make a whole lot more of these!!


I came across this pattern on Pinterest and loved it so much I decided to make this mug rug out of another bag of scraps.

 

This is My personal mug rug!!


 Then I showed them to Kristen and Susan and asked if they might like one and of course they do.  Then I decided to make a few for presents/hostess gifts etc. and now I've got a little stash.  They're so easy and fun to make.  


Here's the pattern.  This is a neat blog too!  At first I was going to follow the directions step by step but I knew if I put a lot of time and effort into making this mug rug I wouldn't want to use it.  Instead I decided to just applique the coffee cup onto my scrap fabric.  I think they came out just as pretty and the best part was I was able to finish them in one sitting.  All I have to do now is sew the binding on a couple of them.  I can do this mindlessly while I'm watching Dr. Phil.

 http://grandmotherschoice.blogspot.com/2013/04/34-coffee-cup-not-my-job-description.html

I love the two-sided Lite EZ-Steam II fusible web.  I always use it when I applique and then just quickly go over the design with a button hole embroidery stitch. 


We have a new member of the family!!  Sue bought a long arm sewing machine and we named her LuLu!!  At first LuLu had to get used to living in Sue's beautiful quilt room.  Once she got more comfortable she got less finicky and Sue learned what she likes and doesn't like.  I always ask Sue if she pinches herself when she wakes up every morning knowing that beautiful machine is just sitting there waiting for her!

 

I never finish my blog without a delicious recipe and this one is fantastic!  I had a package of Neufchatel cream cheese in the fridge which I had to use and some homemade strawberry jam I save for occasions such as this.  I decided to substitute the raspberry for strawberry and it was out of this world!!  With a cup of coffee or a big glass of cold milk it's a memorable dessert!



Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

from allrecipes.com

Directions


  • Prep
  • Cook
  • Ready In
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9-inch spring-form pan.
  2. Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and butter in a food processor; pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Remove 1 cup of mixture from food processor and set aside. To remaining mixture in processor add baking soda, baking powder, salt, sour cream, almond extract, and 1 egg; process until batter is just combined and smooth. Spread batter evenly into bottom and 2 inches up sides of prepared pan.
  3. Beat cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 egg together in a bowl until smooth; pour into batter-lined pan and spread evenly. Spread raspberry preserves carefully over cheese filling.
  4. Stir reserved crumb mixture and sliced almonds together in a small bowl; sprinkle over the layer of raspberry preserves.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until filling is set and crust is deep golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before removing side of pan. Chill completely before serving, about 1 hour.

I really love to quilt but my first love is and always will be dolls.  So every once in a while I HAVE to make a doll.  Unfortunately right now with my busy life I no longer have the time or patience to sculpt dolls but just like a good recipe I can always whip up a quick doll.  Keeping with my scrap mentality lately I made this mouse from the left-over mitten candle mat I made a few months ago.


There's never enough time to play but it sure feels good when you can fit it in!!

Thanks for visiting and see you in March!!