Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter day

I wanted to share with you my centerpieces....
This was what I created from garden flowers for the table, however it was too big for the table so that everyone can see each other....so, I created a smaller one for the table....

I was really happy that the roses started to bloom for me, as when I went to two florists their selection wasn't very good and expensive (try $5 a rose!).
Last night we made the apple cake and let it cool all night so we could frost in the morning....
And see the hot cross buns?? What a tale that was....
I found a great recipe online, from "Taste of Home Cooking", and we knew it would make a large number, it said about 72....that is if you make them perfectly the same size....our large dough made 80+!

The dough itself was amazing....huge, huge, huge! It filled the 6 qt professional Kitchen-Aid bowl and took both my daughter and me to knead in the last 3 cups or so of flour....

And then it started to rise, it rose in half the time the recipe said (see my post about White Lily flour), and the second rising was 15 mins!
As we were cutting it up, it was visibly rising! She had thought I was exaggerating about the rising and all, but she got to see first hand the difference!
I hope that you have a fabulous Easter....blessings.....
Nancy


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Easter!

Wishing all my family and friends a Happy Easter!
I hope it is a joyous time for all of you, my blog readers.....
Nancy

Thursday, March 28, 2013

My drill

Yes, I know, there are a lot of drills in this household.....but, this one is mine.
Hubby's drills are hard to get to, and the useable ones are corded, making some uses difficult.
I wish I had had the drill when I redid the drapes a few weeks ago, but that is really what made me get one.
I went to the Ace Hardware nearby, they really helped me out. Yes, just like their ad, "the helpful hardware man".....
Anyway, I asked for a "lady's" drill, not too heavy or big....
Here is what he suggested....
(Don't you love the knitting needles in the background and spools of thread underneath??) It is a little drill, and it is only 12V, which means it is not intended for the big jobs.....which I wouldn't be doing anyway. I need it for hanging drapes, or putting in coat hooks or other small odd jobs....
By the way, the lady at Ace who checked me out, said her husband has one for all those "little" jobs and loves it. It keeps its charge and gets into those little spaces better than his other drills......
Afterall, with Rheumatoid Arthritis, my hands are not what they used to be, so I need all the help I can get. Thanks to Hubby, I got to buy this, for me and it lives in the craft room.

This is the reason I bought this version, the lithium battery. Hubby has had two "rechargeables" that would croak in the middle of jobs, only to have to spend more time charging than using....ever experience that? So, we paid almost $30 more to have the lithium battery. You might find it on Amazon for less (don't forget there is shipping though), but the price was fairly consistent between Ace and Home Depot....
I have used it so far to install a shelf bracket and coat hooks,  not bad for an "old" lady. I have a few things I am planning on, but I will show those later.
I just wanted to share my drill in case anyone was thinking of getting one.
It is just my opinion and choice, and I am not getting paid in any way for the info.....
Nancy

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Seed starter tray

For lack of a better name, this old wooden box was for starting seeds. And, at one time I used it for that. However, it just sat beside the potting bench hoping for a better use.
Somewhere on a blog, I saw what looked like a wooden seed starter that had been turned into a tray. Ha ha! All I needed to do was clean it up, and paint it, and add handles.....
So, I super diluted French Linen, which made it look lovely....


I added the handles that got from the hardware store. It will make a great tray for transporting things out to the patio over the summer. I did keep the bottom "old" to show where it came from, and I plan to put little "rubber" feet on it, so it doesn't scratch anything.
I think it is kinda cool! I asked the Hubby, should I paint the bottom? He said, "nope it looks cool"....how neat is that??
Well, this weekend has been full. We had the parade yesterday.....
I cleaned out the front hall closet, taking out all the photo albums and boxes of prints and put them in the office. I then painted the entire front hall closet, using the ceiling paint from the livingroom. It is a touch of grey, mostly white. But it is all clean and fresh.
I emptied out the old, old trunk that I had been storing photos in and have placed that on craigslist, and will put the boxes of photos with the other photos.


My thinking is, one day, whether we use wood flooring or carpet, it will have to be done, so why not clean  up and organize while I can and be ready, right??
We purchased three more pots and tomatoes for the front yard....boy the neighbors are probably wondering.......
We had a power failure that came back on and left us at "brown-out" stage for over an hour, so we are hoping that the major appliances are all ok.....
So, what did you do this weekend??
 Blessings,
Nancy

Saturday, March 23, 2013

San Juan Capistrano Swallows Day Parade

It happens every year. The swallows return to the Mission San Juan Capistrano, and so does the Parade.
The Swallows Day Parade has been running for 58 years. This year was the biggest parade they have had to date. Over 600 horses alone, along with marching bands from local schools and some from the local counties. It started at 11 am and ended at 2 pm. It is counted as the largest non-mechanical parade in the country! Did you know that? Yep, that is a record. It was a great deal of pomp and fun.
We went because our daughter was riding in the parade with what was supposed to be 17 Friesians from Southern California....only 11 or so were able to show.
Did you know that the Friesian horse was almost extinct a few years ago? Yup, and our daughter rides one at least once a week....
So, without further ado, I will post the pictures. My hubby took these pictures and in total he took 297 pictures. Afterall, besides horses there were dogs, children, wagons, marching bands and more. No motors of any sort. Every wagon was pulled by horse power.....great fun and a long day.
Enjoy!





 (this is our daughter and the horse she rode ...)
It was a day that started for us at 6 am...for our daughter it started at 3:30 am and went until 4pm when she got to drive home.....
The day before she had to help get the horses ready, that was an all day affair as well....
It was a beautiful day, not too hot...and the sun came out....
Hope your weekend was a good one!
Nancy

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More fun

Just a note for those who read this blog...
I just picked up a copy of Annie Sloan's newest book, Color Recipes...., did you know you can dye fabric with her paint?? Yeah, a bunch of fabulous techniques she has been holding out on. Amazing and refreshing, such fun ideas and all....makes one want more colors....
Imagine dying your sheets to match the wall color, or the drapes or......
The book is hard to get right now, but it is available at the wonderful shop, Peinture. Don't forget, Annie Sloan herself will be there (Peinture, in Costa Mesa) on April 13th!! She will sign books and chat. What an opportunity!
Call Debbie and tell her you want the book and want to be there to meet Annie!
Check it out!!
Nancy

Spring!

We have been waking up to foggy overcast days. It gets weary at times.
But today, the sun was out and the birds were singing and all seemed quite hopeful.....
Check out the dew on the rosebush....
See the egg cartons on the table?? Well, that is from saved egg shells we had saved for planting tomatoes. If you have been reading along about planting tomatoes, we have used washed and dried egg shells in with all the compost, fertilizers and such when planting them.
You might remember that Hubby and I have kind of contest each year about tomatoes too. And so far, He is winning.
Granted, his are cherry varieties, and they do grow extra fast, but he used an ingredient that I did not.
Aspirin! Regular old aspirin....
These tomatoes have doubled in size in one week! Yes, one week!
Mine are growing, but they haven't doubled by any means. We used the same fertilizers, compost etc. The only difference was aspirin. He ground it up and then added that before putting his plant in.
We had read about that helping a plant with its shock and immune system.....so, if you are planting tomatoes, you might want to do this....crush them up well and add just before putting your plant in!

We are organizing and cleaning... so I am off.....
Nancy

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My little find

I went to Tuesday Morning, which happens to be next door to the market.
Remember when I had to go to the market for St. Patrick's Day? Well, I went next door to look for cute little paper plates for the dessert. You know, Green and white and covered with shamrocks or something. They didn't have those either!
But, they did have some glasses I was looking for from France. (yay!) and this.....

No, it has nothing to do at all with St. Patricks Day, but I have been looking for a larger rug by the slider for coming in. Isn't it cute? It is yet another nod to my "farm" and it has the gray and beige and all....
No, I didn't plan on it...but it was there and not another in sight. So, I had to get it, right?
Have you ever gotten something unplanned? On a whim?
Nancy

Monday, March 18, 2013

One of those weekends

We had one of those weekends. You know the kind.  We had company on Saturday and Sunday.
Lots of trips to the market for food, then you forgot something and you have to go back.
Lots of planning, and organizing and cleaning....
But it was worth it.
Saturday, a dear friend came from Palmdale (a three hour drive) that we haven't seen in over a year. She came for lunch. So, with simplicity in mind, I set up a "sandwich bar", so everyone could make their own sandwich, since there were so many "I can't eat that, and don't like this" requests...
Here is what I came up with.....

I put out trays of meats, cheeses, hummus, condiments, and a homemade three bean salad, paired up with homemade sourdough bread and let everyone make their own. We had ice tea, water and coffee available.
This allowed everyone to meet their needs simply and then spend time getting caught up on each other's lives....
I offered mini cupcakes for dessert, which were the perfect size, just to finish it all off.
She wasn't here long, but it was wonderful to see her.....
Then.....
Sunday was St. Patrick's Day. We always have corned beef and cabbage.
I do the "New England" style that my mother taught....all in one pot.
It was going to be my daughters, my Father-in-law and Hubby and I, but one daughter couldn't come, she got called in to work and then my Father-in-law wasn't feeling well...and here I had two briskets and two cabbages and countless potatoes and carrots... all cooking in the giant roaster. So, we invited my daughter's friends to come and eat.
Served with Irish soda bread (from Sprouts), we had a great time.


I made cookies and brownies for dessert....
It was a fun evening and I am glad we did it.....
But, now it is Monday.....
No one coming to visit...no parties...just laundry to get caught up on and figuring what to do with all that leftover food......
What did you do this weekend?
Nancy

Friday, March 15, 2013

A New Take on Creamed Chicken

When I have leftover chicken, especially from a whole chicken, I often cream the chicken and serve it on rice, or noodles or potatoes....
However, I was looking for something new and wanted to create. You know how it is, I was tired of the same old thing.
Right. So, I looked in the cupboard for inspiration to hit. And it did. A couple of months ago, I had purchased a can of coconut cream. It was for another recipe that I did not do.
I also had some of Trader Joe's cut up butternut squash as well....Humm, I thought I wonder...
I put the coconiut cream into the large frying pan with the squash and simmered until the squash was almost tender, just enough to make the bites smaller than they were. I added a pinch of bouquet Garni, cumin, salt and pepper and then threw in the cut up cooked chicken. (It was a good size cup worth). I let that simmer for a bit and felt it still needed something, so into the fridge I rummaged and came up with about a 1/4 cup of homemade orange marmalade. Ah Ha! I ladled out some of the now yummy coconut sauce into a small bowl and whisked in the marmalade. Which I then poured back into the simmering brew.
When everything was yummy (about another 5 mins or so) I served this over rice.
I topped it with chopped parsley and pine nuts, but you could use cilantro, or even mint....

Oh, yeah, it was good.....very good. It is going on my list of go to recipes. It was way easier than making a cream sauce. There is no gluten. And no added cholesterol. Coconut is the new health food, so this is a good, yummy thing....
Give it a try and put a twist on of your own!
Nancy

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Homemade Semolina Pasta

My wonderful married daughter wanted to spend the day with me after she got out of meetings. So, when she arrived we agreed we wanted to make some fettuccine, from scratch.
Yup. We did!
 Before we started, I had purchased semolina flour from Surfas Culinary District. It is not a type of flour that is commonly carried elsewhere....
First, we assembled the pasta drying rack that I had found, unused at a thrift store....
Then we mixed the dough and kneaded it into a beautiful little ball. We divided the dough into 8 sections.
Then,  we flattened the sections into disks that could go into this pasta roller, it runs the dough through and makes the sections long and thin.
 These segments went through the fettuccine cutter....

Here is our pasta on the drying rack, where it stayed while we went to the market and bought big scallops to go with our pasta.
We then cooked the pasta....
While the water had come to a boil(about 20 mins) to cook the pasta (which only took 8 minutes), we cooked up an onion, red bell pepper and then the scallops with white wine....

They were huge scallops! And they were on sale at the store, so we couldn't pass them up...and it was all so yummy!
My other daughter came over after work and joined us for dinner, and since Hubby was at a meeting, it was a delightful "girl's evening" with just my daughters!
What fun we had!
Making pasta is a treat. It is more delicious that dry pasta you get at store, but it is time consuming.
It took about 40 mins or so to make it from scratch.
There were two of us, it does work better with two....
 I had read somewhere that letting it dry a bit before cooking allows it to stay together when cooking, so that takes some time too.
It was a great way to spend time with my daughter and get caught up on what is going on in her life.
Hope you try fresh homemade pasta sometime....
Nancy

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Two days worth

Ah, I am sorry. I didn't post what I did yesterday because I was too tired and ached all over. You see, I re-did the drapes in the dining room and family room.
What did I do? Well, my daughter agreed with me that the drapes were a bit too low, and with the ruffle they felt "dated".
So, we took them off their rods and moved all the supports up three inches. I couldn't do more than that because I am a "shrimp" and wouldn't be able to move the drapes, which are opened and closed everyday, by hand.
So, here is a picture of what the ruffle looked like.....
Now, by itself it wasn't awful, but there are 6 drapes in the family room and then the dining room is adjoining, so it felt overbearing....
So, now with three inches higher and no ruffle, here is what they look like....

Sorry it is a dark picture...what I was trying to accomplish is no really visible, I moved these drapes on the window side over 4" and up 3", so more of the window shows when they are open. To do that, I actually turned the mirror vertical so more drape can be in that area....(you'll have to take my word for it)...
Here is a dark picture of the dining room....sorry, but You get my "drift"...
That was yesterday.....
Today, well it was one of those days....
I did my taxes for my store....
made bread, painted doorknobs (spray painted them oil rubbed bronze), and did some laundry....
When I made the bread, I divided the dough so I could have some hamburger buns...
Isn't it funny I never thought of doing this before?? Really, it is just bread dough....I used the french bread recipe I have been using and just shaped some buns....

So, what have you been doing today??
Nancy