Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Less Independence Day….More Freedom

For many years we hosted our family, our relatives, our relative’s relatives, neighbors, friends, children’s friends, and sometimes a few people we’d never laid eyes on for a big Fourth of July bash. Not this year.


We’re taking it on the road!


The guest list has been pared down to children and/or their spouse or very significant other :). The basket is packed. The plates are plastic or melamine. The napkins are Hobby Lobby kerchiefs. Even the blue hydrangeas and red geraniums are cooperating.


The flatware from the dollar store is already bundled with festive ribbon and packed in a bucket.


Even the Kitchen Aid mixer is taking the day off! Cookies are from the Kroger bakery. I’ll be serving homemade pimiento cheese with Triscuits or Wheat Thins, fried chicken and potato salad from the deli, and fresh fruit.


I did make a couple of loaves of homemade bread this weekend…all wrapped and ready to go. Actually one of these went to my new neighbor to welcome them to the neighborhood.


There will be plenty of iced tea with fresh mint and lemon. I’m anticipating that a good time will be had by all…mostly the host and hostess. This year we’re celebrating a little less Independence Day and a lot more freedom!!! Happy Fourth of July to you and yours and may God bless America!

I am joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. Click on the TT button on my sidebar to join the party! Don’t forget to say hello…I appreciate your visit :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

So Berry Delicious

Two things inspired my post today for Smiling Sally’s Blue Monday. First, Fourth of July celebrations are right around the corner and second there is abundance of fresh, reasonably priced berries in grocery stores right now. Oh, and there’s that other one….I love dessert. But you knew that :)


This dessert had its beginnings in a recipe posted by La Table De Nana for an easy-as-can-be lemon curd made in the microwave. You can find the recipe here. It truly could not be any easier or more delicious. You can have this ready in a matter of minutes. I fought the impulse to eat it with a spoon and made this red, white, and blue trifle instead.


This is perfect for a busy holiday dessert. I used a “store-bought” pound cake. It can also be made up to a day in advance. The flavors mix and mingle to form the perfect blend! I made individual trifles in wine glasses, but you could make a large one in a trifle bowl for a crowd.

Red, White, and Blue Trifle

Simple Syrup

Purchased pound cake


Strawberries, sweetened with a little sugar or sugar substitute

Heavy cream, whipped and sweetened

To make the simple syrup combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 cup water in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer one minute. Cover and chill.

To assemble the trifle cut the pound cake in cubes that suit your container. Drizzle with the simple syrup. Layer pound cake, lemon curd, strawberries, blueberries, and repeat. Top with whipped cream and garnish if desired. Cover and chill. How easy it that?

You can find more blue at Smiling Sally’s Blue Monday here. Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget to say hello!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Farewell to Gran


I suppose I shouldn’t admit it, but for many years I planned my life to some degree around the soap opera Days of Our Lives. In college I took all morning classes so I could be through in time to watch “my soap”. As a young mother I put my children down for naps at 1:00. At the beach I came in 1:00 to escape the hottest part of the day. Coincidence? I think not. It’s okay. I’m in good company. Time reported that Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall used to call recess at 1:00 to check in on the Hortons and Bradys.


I gave up watching several years ago. It got a little wacko even for a diehard fan like me, but I still had my favorites. Today I happened to see the funeral of Alice Horton an original 1964 cast member and matriarch of the family. So I had to stop and watch…to pay my respects.


Frances Reid who played Alice for over four decades passed away in February of this year at the age of 95. Her last appearance on the show was in December of 2009. She was famous for her homemade doughnuts and sage advice in a family that often needed both. She was lovingly known as “Gran” . Kristen Alphonse’s character summed it up at the tv funeral: “She was the woman I always hoped I would be.”

DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- NBC Daytime -- Pictured: (l-r) Macdonald Carey and Frances Reid -- NBC Universal Photo --  FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY -- NOT FOR RESALE/DO NOT ARCHIVE

Now the rational part of me knows that Frances Reid was just playing a part on a soap opera….knowing Alice didn’t mean I knew Frances. But still….she was the grandmother a lot of people longed for or the one they wanted to be.


I’ll miss just knowing she is there…just in case, I wanted to tune in….



Watching Alice was definitely one of my favorite things. I am joining Laurie at Bargain Hunting and Chatting with Laurie for My Favorite Things.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nostalgic Summertime Cupcakes

I’ve been thinking a lot about what summer means….what it meant to me as a child. The only thing bigger was Christmas. It meant playing chase outside ‘til dark thirty….catching lightening bugs….running through sprinklers….the smell of fresh cut grass….and the ice cream truck’s happy music wafting through the neighborhood. He had the timing down just right….early enough not to “ruin my supper” as my grandmother said. push up

All the kids raced inside to retrieve their allowance or beg for small change. My mother gave me enough money for two treats—one for me and one for my beagle named Rebel. This was a defensive move on her part :). It prevented the inevitable tears over stolen ice cream. Rebel preferred vanilla. But my favorite was a push up…. about four inches of cold delicious orange sherbet….air conditioning for your insides.


I saw this recipe for creamsicle cupcakes in Woman’s Day magazine and was immediately reminded of those days. They are light with just the right amount of orange flavor.

Creamsicle Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. each baking powder, baking soda, and salt

3 large eggs

2 tbsp. grated orange zest

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

Orange Cream Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. grated orange zest

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

orange paste food color (optional—I used red and yellow mixed)

For the cupcakes preheat oven to 350. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. In a medium bowl whisk flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until blended. In a large bowl mix eggs, orange zest, and vanilla until blended. I used my new Kitchen Aid mixer from Designs by Gollum! Beat in remaining 1 cup sugar. Add oil and then buttermilk until blended. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture until just blended. Spoon about 1/4 cup mixture into each muffin cup

**Measuring the amount I put into each muffin liner is one of the best hints I learned from the Viking Cooking School. It ensures uniform sizes.

Bake 25-28 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely

For the frosting, beat the cream cheese, vanilla and orange zest on low until well blended. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat until fluffy. Add food coloring (if using) until light orange. Refrigerate until firm enough to spread. Garnish as desired. I made flowers with the homemade fondant recipe.


Sometimes you can go home again….even if it’s just for a moment.

I am joining our generous and gracious hostess Michael Lee West for Foodie Friday. Check out her giveaways and click on her button on my sidebar for immediate transportation! I am also linking to Stepahanie Lynn at Under the Table and Dreaming for the Sunday Showcase Party. You can find her here!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Blindsided by The Blindside….A Metamorphosis?


I suppose, by now, if you are unaware of the runaway hit The Blindside, you must have been living under a rock. I saw the movie when it first came out and loved it. But, I thought I noticed a big “boo boo” when I saw it at the theater. I recently Netflixed the movie to check it out. Surely not….nobody could or would make a mistake this big!


I have no idea how Julia at Hooked on Houses provides clear movie scenes each Monday. I never miss it! Please, forgive my feeble effort. The movie is, of course, about the life of Michael Oher and the family in Memphis TN who took him under their wing and radically changed his life. TheTuohy family became aware of Michael when he was given a scholarship to attend the same school their children attended….the same one my children attended. The actual filming of the movie took place in Atlanta GA. The school scenes were filmed partly at the Atlanta International School and partly at the Westminster Schools. I suspect this particular scene is from a set built specifically for the movie….


This is the actual school in Memphis that Michael attended and where he played football. It’s not quite as glamorous as the movie set. I ’ve spent a lot of time at this school….a lot of time looking at this building in carpool lines…..a lot of time with this particular verse of the Bible. It is one of my favorites. So I wonder….how does a mistake like this happen? I’ve heard of artistic license…..but with the Bible?

I hope Susan at Between Naps on the Porch forgives my “artistic license” with her theme for Metamorphosis Monday :) Please join her and a host of others for some inspiring ideas!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father’s Day


He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it.

quote by

Clarence Budington Kelland



Thanks Pop

Friday, June 18, 2010

I’m A Deadheader


Deadheader—sounds like a bad rock band from the eighties, doesn’t it? But no, I am a deadheader of the garden variety.


These are my window boxes full of petunias, pink impatiens, geraniums, and creeping jenny. This spot gets partial shade and partial sun at different times of the day. The petunias love the sun and the impatiens seem to bloom even more as long as they get plenty of water. To ensure blooms all summer I deadhead about twice a week.


Deadheading is the removal of dead or spent flowers to encourage more blooms and improve the overall appearance of the plant. It in effect fools Mother Nature by preventing the flower from going to seed. Some blooms like these petunias can be merely pinched off. Others like geraniums should be snipped at the bottom of the stem.


This year, because Charlie, a high spirited springer spaniel puppy, is temporarily living with us, I decided to save us all some heartache and plant all my annuals in containers. We’re all happier that way.


The ivy and grasses survive year round in the pots and provide a good back drop for each spring’s new annuals. This pot also contains rosemary and a new little herb I planted for the first time. It’s called boxwood basil and is bushy and compact just like a true boxwood. Pinching its leaves also encourages new growth and of course the leaves have the same flavor and smell as regular basil. Hibiscus will usually drop their own faded blooms themselves, but you can speed the process and promote more bloom by removing them.


More pink and white impatiens and another shade of pink hibiscus. This also contains lavender that I have planted for the first time. That’s the the Ole Miss Colonel Rebel watching over the pot---he’ll soon be replaced by a new mascot.CIMG2183

My pink hydrangeas have bloomed their little hearts out!

I am joining Beverly at How Sweet the Sound for Pink Saturday and Laurie at Bargain Hunting and Chatting with Laurie for My Favorite Things. Container gardening and pink flowers are two of my favorite things! Happy Saturday and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spoken From the Heart...An Edible Review



Spoken From the Heart

I am joining Jain at Food for Thought and Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday allows me to combine two of my great loves—reading and cooking!

Knowing my great love for biographies and autobiographies, my youngest son gave me Spoken from the Heart for Mother’s Day and I have truly enjoyed reading it. The strongest sense I got while reading was an almost tangible sense of peace and acceptance. The autobiography reads exactly like her public persona—soft spoken.


I found the first half of the 456 page book the most enjoyable and, by far, the most revealing. She writes of an idyllic childhood marred only by her longing for siblings and the sadness over her mother’s “late miscarriages”---a euphemism for the lost brother and other two babies never again discussed. She discusses in depth the tragic car accident that took the life of her classmate while she was at the wheel of the other car. She admits a guilt from which there is no absolution but realizes “there is no great clock to unwind”.

I was moved by how poignantly she describes her heartache when she was unable to conceive in early marriage. She says that there is no word in the English language to mourn absence. She says, “For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like a silent, ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that was never held?”. I sensed once again the mourning of lost siblings and that Laura Bush’s sense of responsibility as wife and mother far outweighed that of First Lady.


The second half of the book is far less personal and interesting to me. Perhaps the lack of intimate details is by design or perhaps it is out of necessity to include all the facts. Mrs. Bush writes of people, places, and events with little personal insight. The exception is her moving account of September 11.


I got a strong sense that Laura Bush is happy to be back in her native Texas with lifelong friends, close ties to the land around her, and a slower schedule. She wrote a paragraph about the early years of her marriage in Midland. She writes, “I remember one summer evening working in the flower beds in our yard after the girls had gone to sleep, while the sun still hung low in the sky. George was sitting on the steps reading the newspaper, and I thought to myself , “This is the life”. And it was.”. Haven’t we all had a moment like this---one when life seems so peaceful and you wish you could freeze it? I recently had one of those days.


Oddly enough, I am the “fisherman” in the family. Beloved much prefers hunting, but he indulged me and took me to a friend’s private pond. You can see the tip of my pole in the left corner :). It was a perfect afternoon in a beautiful spot.


The fish were biting. And I thought of Laura Bush--This is the life”.


We fried the fish for lunch on Sunday. You can find the hushpuppy and tartar sauce recipes on an earlier post here.


8 cups shredded cabbage (I buy the bagged variety)

1 cup shredded carrot

3 tablespoons sugar

1 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all and refrigerate.

Don’t forget to visit Food for Thought on Saturday and Designs by Gollum on Friday. Thanks Ladies!

Sunday, June 13, 2010



I am happy, thrilled, overjoyed, ecstatic, tickled pink, delighted, rejoicing,

grateful, happy as a pig in mud, mirthful, pleased, smiling, appreciative, hopeful, pleased, thankful, and just generally proud as a peacock! I won a giveaway from the very gracious Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum. And last week when the dogs stirred up a ruckus, I looked out and saw this


And now I’m singing Happy, happy, joy, joy! I brought it right in the house and found it a home.


I think it’s going to be very happy here :) We’ll make a great team…make beautiful music together…make wonderful things that make us want trade in our swimsuit for a moo moo :)

mixer mosaic

I predict a long and happy relationship! Thanks Gollum! I am joining Mary at Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Design Star…My Sunday Night Reality Fix


Reality TV is back and just in time for me. I have been suffering from reality TV withdrawal since the end of of American Idol for the year, but on Sunday night Design Star will return with twelve new designers hoping to earn an HGTV show of their own. This year’s candidates range in age from twenty six to forty six and come from New York City all the way down to Texas. They come from a variety of backgrounds. Several are professional designers, but many are not formally trained. The hopefuls include a construction worker, a mason, and a missionary! For complete biographies you can check out the HGTV website here.


Vern Yip host of Deserving Design is back once again as a judge. Vern is a proud new Popa! Son Gavin was born in January of this year. In the background is a work of art Vern had commissioned for the nursery. I’m looking for pictures of the entire room!

Candice Olson is returning also for a second year. I love her show Divine Design, because I think she creates beautifully inspired yet liveable spaces. I thought she was a fair judge who shared constructive criticism with a sense of humor last year.

Finally, there is our old TLC barefoot designer Genevieve Gorder. Surprisingly, to me, Genevieve who seems so warm and fuzzy on her own show Dear Genevieve turned out to be the harshest critic. I was expecting Paula Abdul and got Simon Cowell instead! :) So, I’ll be watching on Sunday nights for the next few weeks. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find someone I like as much as my favorite Design Star winner.


David Bromstad was the winner of season one of Design Star and now hosts his own show Color Splash. David is famous for adding original art to the rooms he designs. I recently learned David started his career as a Disney illustrator! I’ll be posting as the show progresses. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Flower for Two Seasons


Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers. They come in a variety of colors. The Nikko Blue is my favorite and stands up well to our sometimes very cold winters.


This hydrangea is in the lacecap family. They are more delicate and less showy than their mophead cousins, but just as beautiful.


It’s not unusual to find different color blooms on the same plant. This plant in my back yard has white tinged with lavender, lavender and green blooms on it. And although hydrangeas are synonymous with summer, they have me thinking about the fall…..when they make beautiful dried arrangements.


There are several methods for drying hydrangeas. Perhaps the simplest is to let Mother Nature take its course. Wait until late in the blooming season (August to October depending on where you live) and allow the blooms simply to dry on the plant. They will change in color going to pale green, tan, pink, or burgundy. The petals will feel papery. You can now cut them and bring them inside. No need to put them in water or hang them upside down. Just protect them and let them continue to dry out.


Another method, and one I am trying for the first time, is called the water drying method. This method promises to help the bloom hold its color and shape a little better. First cut the flower with a stem length that will be easy to work with. Strip all the green leaves from the stem.


Put the flowers in fresh water covering at least half the stem. Make sure the vase is in a cool place out of direct sunlight. Do not replace the water as it is used or evaporates. This allows the blossom to dry naturally. When the water is gone, the flower will feel papery and will be ready to use.


I made this arrangement last fall using the late harvest method. The pale greens and tans are perfect for a fall table.


I think I would like to try making a wreath like this one for my door this fall. It would be a nice way to thank the hydrangea for being so accommodating by blooming all summer and then changing colors just in time for fall.

I am joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday.


On Wednesday I am linking to a new party, Centerpiece Wednesday over at the Style Sisters. This is a relatively new party and I am excited to join it. Hope you’ll visit both parties. Thanks for stopping by…leave me a note :)