Monday, May 18, 2015

May 2015

May Flowers

An old friend posted this on Facebook the other day and when I saw it I pinned it.  I love lilacs.  My childhood home had so many lilac bushes in the yard we had bouquets of flowers in our house all summer long.


Update:  Here are the small distressed tables I refinished last month.  I love them.  I already have a vision of this one with a miniature Christmas tree on the top tier and some of my dolls on the second tier.  Stay tuned for that!


I love the way this table came out.  Right now it's in my sewing room.  I'm sure it'll move all over the house before it finds a real home.



Since finishing my 50 Civil War blocks I've taken to making small quilts.  They're so much fun BECAUSE IT DOESN'T TAKE LONG TO FINISH THEM!  I love this scrappy paper doll quilt.



This was really fun once Donna straightened me out.  Next time I get to quilt group I'll bring it and ask the pros how to quilt it.  I've noticed I tend to lean toward tying my quilts because that method is so quick and easy.  This time I think I need to quilt this one!



This is my favorite mini quilt so far.  I have to button hole around the bags before I quilt it.  I've always wanted to make a bag quilt.  Next I HAVE TO MAKE A HOUSE QUILT!


Since time is my enemy I do everything in short increments.  The best part about having a sewing room is you can leave everything on a table for however long and then have it sitting there calling you to come back and work on it!



For quite some time now I've looked for an album I could put all of my "treasures" in.  I didn't want to make a journal where I pasted everything down.  I just wanted some vessel to house all of the little things I've been collecting over the years.  When I saw this 8X8 photo album in Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago I knew this was it. 



I always have to keep reminding myself that I don't have to use things the way they're supposed to be used.  I can be different and free to be creative.  I think when you work in a rigid environment where there are strict rules all day long it's hard to let your imagination run wild when you have free time.  So I felt good when I finished putting everything in these pages.


This is an example of what's in my album.  I love cards that speak to me.  I found a set of cards in a little shop in Homer Alaska.  I started framing them when I realized I don't have any room to display them.  This is the where my album comes in handy.  Everything needs to be in one place otherwise I lose everything.  The worst part is I'll search everywhere over and over until I find what I'm looking for.  Sometimes I wonder what I've lost that I've forgotten!


I can't remember where I bought this doll pincushion pattern.  This past winter I made her one snow day.  I embellished her a little and embroidered her face.  Of course she's too cute to stick pins in so she just hangs out with me on the table when I'm working.



Finally, a few weeks ago I decided to embroider a little saying and frame it.  It took a whole weekend to get my house into summer mode so why not make my own framed sayings.  


I collect frames.  I didn't realize when I bought this one that it's deep and perfect for a "window box" venue.


Lastly, since Memorial Day weekend is coming up I couldn't leave you without sharing one of my favorite recipes.  This Odense chocolate cake is so easy and delicious.  If you tried the almond cake recipe I posted at Christmas you'll love this.  I've never made the Ganache Glaze.  I usually put a doily over the top of the cake when it's cool and sprinkle it with powdered sugar.  The cake stands alone without an icing.  But if you know me by now you know I'm not leaving it at that.  I serve it with vanilla ice cream!

Chocolate Frangipan

Chocolate Frangipan Recipe
The mix of almond paste and cocoa is a match made in heaven.
YIELD
One 9 inch or 10 inch cake
TIME
20 minutes to assemble
25 minutes to bake
Total Time: 45 minutes
INGREDIENTS
  • For Cake:
  • 1-7 oz box Odense Almond Paste, grated
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) soft butter
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder (dutch processed preferred)
  • For Chocolate Ganache Glaze (Optional):
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
DIRECTIONS
1.To make cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour the tart pan.
2.Add the Almond Paste to a mixing bowl with sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until combined. Beat on high until smooth, about 3 minutes.
3.Add eggs one at a time beating well between each addition. Scrape bowl down and beat on high until light and fluffy.
4.Mix flour and cocoa and fold into the batter until just combined.
5.Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted between the center and edge comes out clean. The middle will still be soft. It will firm as it cools.
6.Cool on a wire rack.
7.To make glaze: Bring water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler. Put cream, butter, and chocolate pieces in the top of double boiler. Stir until melted together. DO NOT LET ANY WATER TOUCH MIXTURE.
8.Pour warm glaze over cake and smooth to edges. For a show stopping presentation, pipe with white frosting and garnish with raspberries.
TOOLS & EQUIPMENT
9 or 10 inch tart pan with removable
bottom or springform pan
Box grater
Electric mixer


Thanks for visiting.  I can't believe next time we talk it'll be June!  I think this summer is going to fly by.  See you soon...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April Showers!



April Showers Bring May Flowers!


This is one of my favorite tile pieces by Kristen. I am so fortunate to be able to seasonally rotate her beautiful art.   
     

Spring is here on the Cape.  Susan and Luke were there a few weekends ago when the weather was beautiful.  They were lucky to have most places all to themselves because tourist season hasn't begun yet.




Spring is also the time for the Artexpo in New York City at Pier 94.  The artwork below is just a glimpse at some of the highlights of the show this year.  




If you go to this show on a regular basis you'll see a lot of the same artists and that's what makes it so much fun because this is a show where the artists want to talk to you.  If you buy their work they absolutely remember you.  We have a favorite artist named Jeremy and this is the second year Susan bought some of his work and he not only remembered her/us, he gave her a free piece.

Jewelry is something we don't see often there so I had to try on a few pieces.  Mother's Day and my birthday are coming up (that's a hint if anyone in my family reads this) and dreaming is free!!!


Love these two necklaces!


There are no photo signs all over this show but once in a while you come across an artist who loves to have his/her work photographed.  I lucked out because the pieces below were my all time favorite. 


The lighting wasn't terrific for the shimmering silver in these pieces but it just made the work pop.


Who doesn't just love an ostrich?


Spring means a new quilt hanging for the back of the front door.  I finished my Alaska mini quilt just in time to hang.


I saw this adorable mug rug on one of quilt websites I subscribe to and thought it would be a really fun easy project for summer.  It's on my project list.  You'll see it if I make it.  If you make it please send me a photo and I'll post it!

Nautical Mug Rug – am I in fashion?

Bring summer to your table all year round with this fun nautical mug rug template and instructions.Cut and paste in your browser - http://so-sew-easy.com/nautical-mug-rug-fashion/
So what's a great weekend without an equally great dessert!   I have vanilla ice cream in the freezer I'd like to use up so this is perfect.
Chocolate Pudding Cake Recipe
Chocolate Pudding Cake

Yield: Serves 12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
This rich and moist chocolate cake with a silky chocolate pudding sauce is easy to make and always a hit! We like to serve the cake with vanilla ice cream.

ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar, divided
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (we use Dutch processed cocoa)
2 1/2 cups boiling water

directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, 1 cup of the brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until well combined. If there are lumps of brown sugar, use your hands to break them up. Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate together over medium-low heat.
4. In a separate small saucepan, heat buttermilk over low heat until barely warmed. You don't want it to bubble or boil. Remove from heat.
5. Remove chocolate and butter mixture from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour mixture over dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and stir until combined. Spread into the prepared pan.
6. Combine the remaining 1 1/4 cups brown sugar with the cocoa in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth, using your hands to break up any brown sugar clumps. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the chocolate cake batter.
7. Pour the boiling water evenly over the cake. Yes, it will look like a mess, but I promise it will turn out!
8. Carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the center is firm to the touch.
9. Remove cake from oven and cool on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes before serving. To serve, invert each serving on a plate so that the fudge sauce on the bottom becomes a topping. Spoon any extra sauce in the pan over the top. You can serve the cake at room temperature or warm. Top with ice cream, if desired.
Recipe from Still Life with Menu by Mollie Katzen
Follow twopeasandpod on Instagram and show us what recipes you are making from our blog! Use the hashtag #twopeasandtheirpod! We want to see what you are making in your kitchen! 

 Pier I had this flamingo pillow in their flyer last month.  I love flamingos in the summer so I decided to brighten up my living room with it.  The store doesn't carry it but they ordered it for me and shipped it to my house for free.


Last month I went in to buy some spring pillows for the family room and came out with these goodies.  Now I have to stay away from there for a while!


Stop back next month.  I'm refinishing these two old tables.  Either the finished pieces are going to be fabulous OR I'm going to have to trash them.  I'll share the photo no matter the outcome!


I can't believe the next post will be May!  I have a feeling this spring and summer are going to fly by.  I hope not too fast because I can't wait to get outside and actually sit on my deck.  It's been 8 long months!

Thanks for visiting!  See you soon!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Happy Easter 2015!

It's April and you can tell by my hutch that it's time for Easter!


I made this little frog quilt years ago.  The colors in it  compliment my refinished little half table.


Last Sunday I went to open the blinds and saw my mom's Christmas cactus is blooming.  My mom passed away over 22 years ago.  She loved Christmas cactus and had several that were at 10 years old at the time of her death.  Chris worked in the florist dept. of Stop & Shop when he was in high school and college.  I credit him with keeping her plants alive as well as all of our beautiful plants.  

I'm always a little sad when holidays come around.  I'm an only child and my dad passed away 25 years ago and then my mom right after.  Our dogs and cat have been gone for over 10 years. When I saw the flowers on the cactus I remembered what my mom always used to say.  All of the plants and trees outside look like they're dead in the winter but as soon as spring comes everything wakes up and comes alive again.  She believed the dead sleep and someday will be awakened.  I so hope she was right. 
  

Here are some of my new bunnies.  I always manage to make a few dolls between quilt projects.  This year I felt like making bunnies... 


maybe because I was looking forward to the warm weather so much.





She's my favorite!


These are Chris' childhood bunnies.  They stay in our hutch all year round with the rest of our treasures.


In our house holidays mean eating so as always there's a recipe in this post.


This burrata cheese platter was a real hit Palm Sunday.  It's Luke's favorite but now it's ours too.  
We bought the fresh burrata cheese at the Italian store.  I sliced it very thin and alternated with thin slices of beefsteak tomatoes then sprinkled fresh chopped basil on top.  Then I drizzled a little olive oil over everything and cracked a little pepper.   


When we were buying the cheese a few really nice people in the store chimed in when I said we were going to make this for the first time and said we had to add some of this very thick balsamic glaze.  It's wonderful.  This was the easiest most delicious appetizer I've made in a long time. 


Here's hoping SPRING finally comes and stays!  


Thanks for visiting and Happy Easter!  Can you believe I'll see you in May!!


Saturday, March 14, 2015

March 2015



Wake up everybody!  Spring is supposed to be right around the corner!


As you know by now you can tell the time of the season by the way my hutch is decorated.  Last month when I told my friends I still had my winter decorations up they insisted I take them down because with the lot I have winter will never leave.
  

I promised my buddies at Hamden Crafters and Hamden Quilters that I would post more of their projects.  They are always so willing to model and share all of their beautiful creations.  What better time than Spring to show them off.


We have a great time whether the whole crew is present or less than half of us.  All we need to do is get on the subject of crafts, recipes, what's going on in and around town, Downton Abbey, Doc Martin, etc. etc. and we close the place.

Our stitchers rank right up there with our quilters.  Here Diane models her lovely warm crocheted vest.  And the bonus is her turtleneck matched perfectly.  Diane, I hope you wore this gorgeous creation out to celebrate your birthday last week!


And here is another project Diane is working on.  She crocheted this bright and cheery lap blanket for the seniors.  All of the members of our group love to volunteer to make the most beautiful things for our seniors and people in need.


Sandy is a fabulous quilter and knitter and she's got the biggest stash of everything we've ever seen.  She made this gorgeous little knit dress for one lucky little girl!  Only, after looking at the picture in the instruction book, Donna was a little peeved that Sandy didn't make the teddy bear and booties to match.  That didn't rattle tough Sandy though. She said she was done with that project and when we say we're done with a project WE'RE DONE!  Unless you're like me who resurrects them years later only to wish I hadn't.


This is a hat in the works by Cathi.  This past Thursday I asked her about the hat and she kind of brushed that off and showed me what she was determined to finish now.


Cathi says this is the last ditch effort to finish this scarf because if she doesn't finish it now IT'S NEVER GOING TO GET FINISHED!  We say that all night long. 


Donna, the pal we all run to who can figure out any kind of pattern known to man, made this gorgeous tumbler runner.  She's working on the binding now.


Dianna is making this beautiful quilt for her son.  At group she was embroidering around the diamonds.  What patience!  Good luck Dianna with your hip replacement.  We miss you and hope to see you real soon!  Maybe while you're recovering you'll finish it!!

 

Now we come to Anne.  She is an amazing quilter.  She can take scraps of any color, put them together and make a masterpiece.  The worst part about Anne is she does everything effortlessly so everything is easy for her. Don't trust her when she says that because nothing she does is easy. I tried some of her "easy" quilt blocks and they're anything but.



This past Thursday Anne shared with us these quilts she made for the organization called Quilts of Valor.  They make quilts for vets.  I don't know where she gets the time but thankfully there are people out there like her who volunteer their precious time to do amazing things like this.


Each quilt comes with a beautiful sewn pillowcase and label.


Jane Dougherty is the CT Coordinator for Quilts of Valor. If you or anyone you know would like to be a member of this wonderful caring group, her email address is Jane.Dougherty@QOVF.org.    


All you have to do is make the top of the quilt.  Jane provides the backing, label and long-arms it.  When she's finished you just have to bind it.  That's incredible.


Here's another one of our regular models.  Claire loves to model her creations.  Let's hope she'll be able to wear this fabulous patchwork jacket outside real soon. 


I don't know how she had the patience to make this jack and I don't dare even ask because I wouldn't understand anything she tried to explain.


As always I have missed some projects.  At group I  take lots of photos of everyone's projects but I am horribly guilty of forgetting who they belong to when I start posting my blog.  I am down to posting once a month because it's very time consuming and as you can tell I like everything to be perfect.  As I get older I realize perfection does nothing but slow you down.  Unfortunately I really can't change now.  So to whomever this little gem which I love so much belongs - - forgive me for forgetting!  I know I'm going to hear it next time we meet.  I know someone won it somewhere but for the life of me I can't remember who or where!  Donna said I should take photos of everyone after I photograph their project.  In the future I may have to do that!  


As for me, I'm still working on this applique wall hanging I bought in a little store in Denali, Alaska.  I hope to finish it soon and hang it on the back of my front door to remind myself of the wonderful trip we took last summer.  I loved all of the mountains and greenery so much not to mention where I found my love of moose!


I can't end this post without wishing everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day this coming Tuesday.  My co-worker and friend Kim walked in at the end of last week with this Irish Bread Braid that blew me away.  She said she found the recipe on FB.  


This is what it looks like inside!  It's really a meal.  It smelled to die for!!  We spent a good ten minutes rattling off everything and anything you can stuff this bread with. This is next on my endless list of unbelievable things to make.  I hope you're reading this blog Kristen because I'm buying the ingredients!



-You’ll want to prepare your ingredients first. If you’re using chopped spinach from the frozen section, make sure it’s thawed and drained completely. You’ll also want to boil the potatoes ahead of time, too, so they have time to cool completely and you can slice them easily. -Place the dough sheets on a baking sheet and pinch the edges together to seal into one big rectangle. Top it with corned beef and spinach… -Then the taters… -Then the shredded cheese. Use a knife or kitchen scissors to cut the long sides of the dough into 1-inch strips to get it all ready for the braidin’ -Fold in the short end, then alternately cross each strip over the filling to make a “braid” effect. Kinda neat, right? -Once the dough is fully braided, brush on a little egg wash and sprinkle the top with caraway seeds. YUM. -Bake the braid until it’s a deep golden brown, the filling is warm and the cheesy is uber-melty, about 25 minutes. Let the bread sit for a few minutes out of the oven before slicing into it, otherwise all that magical cheese will ooze away! -Slice the braid into strips and serve, either with some Thousand Island dressing, Dijon mustard or on its own. If you’re lucky enough to get a slice of this bread braid, then you’re lucky enough…
Irish Bread Braid
Ingredients
  • 2 cans Pillsbury Recipe Creations seamless dough sheet
  • 6 ounces sliced corned beef
  • 1 cup chopped cooked spinach
  • 2 large red potatoes, boiled, cooled and sliced
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
  • caraway seeds, for sprinkling (optional)
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Unroll dough sheets onto prepared baking sheet. Place sheets side-by-side lengthwise and press into one large rectangle, pinching seam together with fingers.
  3. Place corned beef in center of dough in a 8-inch wide strip. Top with spinach, then potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese.
  4. Using a knife or kitchen scissors, cut 1-inch wide strips on long sides of dough (cut the same number of strips on each side) to within a 1/2-inch of the filling. Fold in short sides, then alternately cross strips over the filling to make a
  5. Brush braid with egg wash, then sprinkle with caraway seeds, if desired. Bake 25 minutes or until a deep golden brown; let cool 5 minutes before slicing.
Recipe and Photo credit:tablespoon / CC BY-NC-ND

So what's a delicious meal without dessert!  Kristen introduced these Slutty Brownies to us a while ago.  Ever since Luke declared them his favorite they have become the whole family's favorite and we can never make enough of them .  He's definitely got good taste when it comes to food because they are really really really to die for!  



 Slutty Brownies
Yield: 1 9x9 brownie pan
Serving Size: 16 brownies per recipe
Ingredients
For the Brownie layer:
·         10 tbsp unsalted butter
·         1 1/4 cups white sugar
·         3/4 cup cocoa powder
·         1/2 tsp salt
·         2 tsp vanilla extract
·         2 large eggs
·         1/2 cup AP flour
·          
For the Oreo layer:
·         1 package of Oreo (regular stuffed or double stuffed)
·          
For the Cookie Dough layer:
·         1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temp)
·         1/4 cup brown sugar
·         3/4 cup white sugar
·         1 egg
·         1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
·         1 1/4 cups AP flour
·         1/2 tsp salt
·         1/2 tsp baking soda
·         1/2 tsp baking powder
·         1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
·          
Instructions
1.    For the Brownie layer:
2.    In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the sugar and cocoa powder once the butter is melted. Whisk to combine and remove from heat. Add the salt, vanilla and eggs and continuously whisk until the eggs are combined. Add the flour and continue to mix. Set batter aside.
3.    For the Cookie Dough layer:
4.    Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips. Set dough aside.
5.    Assembly:
6.    Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
7.    Line the bottom of a 9x9 baking pan with tin foil and then spray the tin foil with a layer of baking spray.
8.    Layer the cookie dough on the bottom of a 9x9 baking pan, pressing down to form the bottom of the slutty brownies.
9.    Layer as many oreos that will fit on top of the cookie dough. No need to overlap. One single layer will do.
10.  Pour the brownie batter on top of the oreo layer and make sure it's evenly layers on top.
11.  Bake for 30-35 minutes. Test with a knife to see if the center is done. If the knife comes out clean, let the brownies rest before serving. If the knife comes out with batter still on it, allow the brownies to bake about 5 minutes more.

12.  Serve with ice cream :)  From What’s Gaby Cooking


That's it for me!  I hope next time we visit it'll be warmer out!  I still can't imagine sitting out on my deck but I know one of these days we'll wake up and it'll be fantastic weather and these past few months of being in the deep freeze will be just a memory...