Saturday, July 11, 2015

July 2015

July 2015

We always kick off the summer with our annual Friday before the 4th of July party at the fireworks.  The rest of the month of July pretty much follows that.  There's a party every Friday night in town at the Summer Concerts.  Everyone wants to be an Arts Commissioner this month because we get up close to all of the action.


I love locally grown flowers in the summer especially sun flowers.


My birthday is the 4th of July.  It's a good birthday to have because everyone is in a party mood!  One of my favorite birthday cards I received this year is this panda.  All of the birthday greetings inside are in Chinese.  I asked Chris if he could read it yet and he was able to translate a little.  I guess that course is paying off.


So welcome to some of the highlights of July!  


Get ready because this is another foodie blog.  I can't seem to get around it and all the pinning I do on Pinterest isn't helping!  I blogged about my birthday drink before so this is a little reminder of the ingredients in this refreshing cocktail in case you're tempted to make one!

Champagne
Fresh Mint
Fresh Ginger

Smoosh it all up in a mortar and pestle and sit on your deck, close your eyes and make believe you're in Maui on vacation!  


I have to share this recipe of my mom's because it's so good and screams summer.  Tomato bread salad.  There are a lot of variations on this salad.  Everyone puts something different in theirs but my mom's is very simple and delicious.  Fresh native tomatoes are they key ingredient.  Here in CT we have a very limited growing season so there aren't a lot of tomatoes out yet but I have my ways.  There are no measurements.  It doesn't matter if you use 1 tomato or 10.  Slice the tomatoes, add lots of fresh basil and thinly sliced vidalia or red onions.  Mix them together with freshly cracked black pepper and some good quality olive oil.  Let this sit for a little while.  Just before you're ready to serve it (like when you put the steaks on the grill) add chunks of chopped biscotti.  By the way just in case you're wondering which kind of biscotti it's the dried bread not the cookie.  Add more olive oil and toss.  The reason I wait on the bread is because it'll get soggy and soak up all the oil if you add it too early.   Vegetables aren't on my family's list of favorite foods but no matter how much of this salad I make there's never anything left over.  P.S. the bowl was another birthday present from Sur La Table.  Love it!
  

We'll skip the main course because anyone can grill!  A few weeks ago I wanted to bake a white cake.  I have hundreds of recipes but I didn't have a favorite one for just a plain good old white cake.  I came across this one and it's a keeper!  

Simple White Cake - allrecipes.com

Simple White Cake Recipe

Ingredients 

Original recipe makes 12 cupcakes or 1- 9x9 inch pan

  • PREP
    20 mins
  • COOK
    30 mins
  • READY IN
    50 mins

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.
So this cake rose so high I was able to cut it in half.  We were very lucky to have a jar of Julie's homemade Strawberry jam in the fridge.  It was the perfect spreading consistency.  When the cake cooled I spread it on one side.


Then I put on the top layer.  At that point I decided not to frost it.  Instead I took a chance and covered the whole cake with Cool Whip spreading it just like a frosting and garnished it with fresh sliced strawberries.


Yes!  This cake is a total winner!!  It's moist, tender and delicious.  It made the perfect strawberry shortcake.  Julie's jam tasted so fresh and the whole pieces of strawberry in it really complimented the sliced strawberries on top.  I suppose any kind of regular store bought jam would do but that jam really made this cake special.  I have a jar of blueberry jam in the fridge that I've been safe keeping to make something special and it's going to be this same cake for sure only in a blueberry version!!!


Speaking of sweet things.  I finally lucked out!  This was the most amazing present I could have ever imagined!  Everyone in my family has a painting of a slice of something.  There's a plain slice of cherry pie, a slice of carrot cake, etc. etc. but I didn't have one.  I mentioned this to Kristen at least a dozen times.  I wanted a slice of pie too.  After all I'm MOM and I deserved one!  That didn't go over very well because I waited the longest for my slice of the pie.  But as that old saying goes "save the best for last" really did come true for me. Here's my slice of the pie and it's the best one yet!!!  It's oil on canvas and it's drying right now.  I may have to wait as long as a month but you can imagine how excited I am to display it!  I look forward to holidays so much because I'm blessed to be given such amazing treasures.  This photo doesn't even do it justice.
  

These are a few of the other awesome unique gifts I got this year.  It's difficult to buy someone who has just about everything a present but my family managed to do just that.  This is an eyeglass holder.  I love it.  I haven't lost my glasses once since I got it!


I love going to the opera.  I've told just about everyone in my family I have to buy myself a pair of opera glasses.  Well I got them!


Whenever we go to a book or novelty store it seems someone buys an adult coloring book.  I've always wanted one but couldn't bring myself to buy one.  That's strange because I have no problem buying myself anything.  Everyone must have been thinking the same thing because I got 3 fantastic coloring books and lots of colored pencils.  I am soooo excited.  Now I just need some more time to play!!!  On top of just coloring in the pages, these books are great for tracing embroidery, red work, appliqueing and just about any embellishment I can think of.


I had a little quality time on a few days off recently and finished the top of my Civil War quilt.  I've been working on it for over a year.  I think when it's finished I'm going to give it to someone special.  I'll keep you posted.  


Before I close this is a really good tip. I used to have to hold the pages of a book open with some heavy objects while trying to read a pattern or directions. Now when I buy a new book I take it to Staples and have it spiral bound.  It's inexpensive and so useful.


I'm worried!  I've talked too much!  


I'll end now.  I can't believe the next time we visit will be in August.  This summer is flying bye.



Thanks for visiting!  See you soon!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Welcome to my Studio - Blog party 2015!

Welcome to my studio 2015! I just love this blog party!

This is where I do all of my quilting, doll making, and all of my crafts!


I have "stations" all over my studio.  Sometimes everything is thrown all over everywhere but I try and keep things organized so I can find them without wasting too much of my precious time!


This pincushion doll was very fun to make.


When I get a new book I always take it to Staples to be spiral bound.  It's very inexpensive and it beats trying to keep a page down when you're trying to read and work on a project!


I work on several projects at a time so my work stations all have different stages of projects on them.  It's so great to be able to leave anything anywhere here and have it be there when you return whenever that is...


This little area by my Bernina is where I can cut or do some scrap booking.


My main cutting area moves around depending on the project.  I was cutting and sewing on my featherweight with my last project so the action was in this corner of the room.


I just finished the top of my Civil War quilt.  It took a few years to make these blocks!


Another corner of my studio is designated for my ironing board.  I have all of my supplies on that baker's rack.  It comes in handy to have everything at hand.


What's in these big closets?  YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW!  Everything is in there and luckily I can close them so I don't have to constantly be reminded of my mess.


My desk and computer.  I bought a second monitor so when I'm writing my blog it goes a little faster.  I can see and chose the photos I want to use on the secondary monitor.


My overflowing bookcase.


Of course my dolls are always looking from every nook and cranny in the room!


He's taking a nap-I must bore him!!


Ralph and Justin like to watch me!


 Here's my Baltimore quilt sitting on a chair.  I just sandwiched it together so it's ready to quilt.


My dolly is always worried about how many projects I juggle!  She knows I may never finish anything!


My teddy stands there and watches too!  I'm never alone in my studio because all of my "friends" are with me!


Thanks for so much for visiting!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

June 2014

JUNE 2014

I'm finding it really hard to believe summer is finally here and the 4th of July is next week!  Sunflowers just seem to spell summer to me. 


Also my flamingos...  


Three members of our family celebrate birthdays in June and July so birthday wishes stay out almost the whole summer.


Memorial Day weekend we spent the day in Portsmouth, NH.  We happened to hit a really cold day.  People were in boots and sweaters.  The next day was a heat wave.  That seemed to be a pattern for a while this spring.


I love the little shops and all of the painted signs.  They inspire me to create.

 

This was one of my favorites.  I would have bought it but for the life of me I couldn't figure out where I would ever put it!!


Here's what came out of that trip.  I had this little saying in my head for so long I finally released it with this embroidered piece.  I always have a few old frames hanging around the house just for this reason.  I painted the frame first with an ocean blue and then crackled it with an off white to look worn and distressed.   


Sandy from quilt/craft group made these beautiful patriotic quilts for the Vets.


All of her quilts are so beautiful.  I'll never understand how she so generously gives them away.


This photo doesn't do this wall hanging justice.


So I'm done with my obsession with Civil War fabrics.  I got this Downton Abbey coffee table book for Mother's Day and all of a sudden I'm obsessed with Downton Abbey fabric.  Of course I'm way too late because most fabric shops are out of it or just have a few bolts left because the craze is over.  But that's  me - after the fact I've caught the bug!  I'll be looking for this fabric wherever I go for a while until something else peaks my fancy.  Problem is there's always something else after all of these collections that gets in the way with actually doing something with all of this stuff!


I love Pinterest.  I have created boards for all of my favorite things and one of them of course is dessert.  The fabulous part of pinning for me is I don't need paper anymore.  I used to collect recipes and photos of everything I love but I could never find anything.  Now I simply pin.  It's a lot quicker to look on a board then all over the house!  One night I was pinning some desserts I found on Facebook and came across this recipe for Hawaiian Wedding Cake.  It looked so good I decided to ring in the start of summer by trying it.    

This cake was really easy to make.  Mix the batter and pour it into a 9x13 pan.


After the cake came out of the oven I put some coconut on a foil lined baking pan and toasted it for a few minutes.  


Sometimes I don't like to frost cakes and I've never used whipped cream in frosting before but lately I've gotten more daring.  This cake looked so amazing I wasn't going to skimp on the frosting.  I'm so glad I decided to follow the recipe exactly.  The frosting is so light and refreshing.  The cake tastes like summer.  It's to die for REALLY!


Looks exactly like the recipe photo!  That doesn't happen all that often!  This ones a winner!



Hawaiian Wedding Cake
Hawaiian Wedding Cake
Yields: 1 servings

Ingredients

1cup white sugar
½cup brown sugar
1tsp baking soda
2cups all-purpose flour
2eggs
1(20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
1cup finely chopped (or crushed) walnuts
¾cup flaked coconut
1tsp cinnamon
tsp nutmeg
1tsp salt
1tsp vanilla

Directions

Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a bowl. Then mix in the eggs, vanilla and crushed pineapple with all of the juice. Pour into a well greased pan 9″ round or 9″X13″ rectangle Bake for about 35 – 40 minutes at 350 degrees (or until toothpick in the center comes out clean). You can serve it this way if you want…or you can kick it up a notch with a simple creamy whipped cream-cream cheese frosting! 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese (let it come to room temperature for easier blending) 1 cup white sugar ⅛ tsp salt 1 tsp vanilla extract 1½ cups heavy whipping cream In a small bowl beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Gently fold the cream cheese mixture and whipped cream together. I topped mine with a little toasted coconut.

Hope the rest of the weekends this summer are sunny!  Thanks for visiting and hope to visit again soon!