Monday, April 27, 2015

The Tea Party

Well, I was really tired after the Tea Party. As per my usual, I overdo, trying to cover all my bases....
Anyone else do that??
Anyway, it worked out well....plenty of food, good friends, good conversation and memories....
I started work at 8 am making fresh strawberry jam.....
Then I went to the garden and picked some fresh items like nasturtiums(flowers and small leaves), cilantro flowers and parsley.
We piped the lemon curd into mini-tarts, as well as chocolate pudding into some of them...
We (being my sister and I) made chicken salad tea sandwiches...as well as piping hummus and creamed feta into small tomatoes or cucumber cups....
The prep went right up to 1:45 with guests due to arrive at 2.
So, what follows is a great number of pictures.....
 These are the nasturtium sandwiches...elegant and pretty and very tasty!! Everyone loved them....yes, you can eat the flowers and the leaves.....
 Gluten free scones....from the Pamela's mix I use, they were probably the best scones I've had. Sweet but not too sweet and light and flaky....excellent with fresh strawberry jam and clotted cream!


 My daughters hate mayo. And since my one daughter is now allergic to eggs...I created chicken salad using white bean hummus in place of mayo...oh my gosh! I love it better!! Apparently, I needed to make more of these cucumber cups with the mix...they were gone shortly after the picture.
 Stuffed mini peppers.....

 These dark things are Cinnamon Fingers....using the crusts that are left from cutting tea sandwiches, on dredges them in melted butter and then in cinnamon sugar then they go into the oven for about 8-10 mins at 400 then get taken out to cool....very yummy and a tradition in our family.....





All in all, it was a great day!!
Hope you had a great Sunday....
Nancy

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Making Lemon Curd

So, remember the tea party I am having?
It can't be a traditional tea party without lemon curd....right? Well, I looked at pre-made lemon curd....and those little jars are anywhere from $8.95-$12.95 for a little tiny jar!
Well, I have lemons, and there are recipes out there; many recipes to choose from. So, I looked and decided to trust Ina Gardners recipe....you know her as the Barefoot Contessa. (recipe at the end...) So, I got busy....



Basically, it's lemon zest, sugar, butter, eggs and salt. Yup, that's it. And once it's all mixed you cook it over a double boiler until it gets thick which is about 170 degrees....I used a candy thermometer to watch it as I stirred and stirred (which you do non-stop) until it's thick. Then, you cool it. I chose to put it into canning jars (I have lots) and into the fridge for Sunday! This is how much it made....2 pints! That adds up to at least $30 worth.....
Total time? 20 mins start to finish! Yup...
I plan on putting the curd in these....
These were not expensive and a real time saver...besides I am awful with pastry....so these will be mini tarts with a small dollop of whipped cream on top....
So...what do you think?
Well, I must clean house....my sister is coming for a visit and I have been busy doing quilting or babysitting....
Nancy

Ingredients
3 lemons
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Directions
Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.

Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All Rights Reserved



Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-curd-recipe.html?oc=linkback


By the way....I tasted it several hours after it has chilled in the fridge...just in case I would need to go get a jar....I knew this recipe was a good one....it is the best lemon curd I have ever tasted! Vastly superior to jarred! Oh my gosh....it was easy and it tastes so good....can't wait to share it on Sunday! According to what I have read online it can keep up to 7 days in the fridge...so go ahead and make some...It's just wonderful.....

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Embellishing Napkins

I'm having a tea party!
I've invited a couple of friends and family for a tea party....and I wanted to do something special with the napkins I'm using...You know the napkins you have but haven't used??
Well, I've collected lots of linen napkins and some are old...but unused. They are delightful old napkins but I thought, why not make them more special??
So, here is what I did....
They are lovely really....but cried for a touch of color.
Since my newly made tablecloth has blues....
I thought I'd play with the stitches in the machine...you know those fancy stitches your machine has?? Yeah, those, I think they need to be used......




Now, I used three stitch options and each got a different color...so I did 6 napkins. It took about 20 mins give or take per napkin. Recommendation here....use a lightweight tear away stabilizer...on the first three I used a heavier tear away, and it pulled out a little of the old stitching, so be careful when doing this. but lightweight worked better.
Even better, I used the old saved stabilizer that I put away from previous embroidery projects...so I didn't need to use new stabilizer....so save leftover from projects...you'll use it up on a job such as this.
But really, aren't they so delightful now??
What a conversation piece! So much fun for the tea party! Just a light hearted decorative way to brighten them up. So next time you are thrifting...go ahead and get those little napkins....and decorate them ....they will thank you!
Nancy

Saturday, April 18, 2015

April In the Garden

My Saturday was a busy one catching up on gardening jobs that had been put aside while quilting.
I cleaned up in the fenced veggie garden, pulling weeds that had grown, even though there is weed barrier cloth. I trimmed bushes that are more like trees, and added soil to the main raised bed there and planted a few bean seeds. I'm hoping our meager watering will still inspire them to grow.
I fed and watered by hand the other raised beds, my "potager". Though I now dread summer with water being so scarce. I have starting changing the way I do things in hopes of cutting back a bit of water usage.
Out front, I did more of the same...watering carefully the plants that need it. We will see how summer plays out. Already, I can see some plants resent being cut back. The trees on the side of the house show it the most. We are only watering 3 days a week and have cut the times on each station. We probably won't get many apples, apricots or peaches this year, although the quince tree is showing a fair crop so far.
But most surprising are the little cherry trees that are in the front yard. They are really just sticks...babies. This is their third year. The biggest tree started blooming a month ago and then the littlest showed some blooms. The biggest tree actually has some fruit growing! So exciting! We might just get a few, like a handful!
 These are semi-dwarf trees in 18 x 18 boxes. the roots can, when they need get into the ground below...
 Here you can see the little cherries...and in the background the boxes I put on the lawn to grow tomatoes and squash. We have actually had three little zucchinis!
These are terrible pictures, I am sorry, but I was so excited to see little fruit!
Out front I also have blueberries, about 10 plants in pots under a tree. They have been great the last several years, this year we will see a drop in amounts I think....however, I did get a handful this morning, and made gluten-free blueberry muffins with chocolate chips. Very yummy. That is how we started the day....
The muffins are made using Pamelas gluten free baking & pancake mix. A simple and easy recipe to whip up 6 little muffins in no time. It was extra special to go out pick some berries and throw them in.
I hope your weekend is going well.....
Nancy


Friday, April 17, 2015

The Quilt

So, I promised I'd share.
So, here is the quilt...minus the binding....

However badly I have hung this so you can see it, what is in each square is what is fun. No two are exactly alike....


I am waiting for fabric to make the binding....so it can take its place as a finished quilt. I gave it a name...."Doodle School". The lady who did the online class said we should doodle...it helps make designs....of course she meant on paper. But, I haven't doodled in many years....so I doodled with thread. Silly I know, but what the heck...it gave me practice....and I think it turned out pretty sweet...
Well, that's it.
Have a great weekend.
Nancy

The Frame and the Quilt

Okay, so yesterday I told you about a surprise......so today I will show you.....
First, if you have been following my blog, you know I have a soft spot for frames. Yup, frames....
It all started when we redid the bathroom....I found two frames that changed the whole way we did the bathroom and those frames became the mirrors for the bathroom.


The frames weren't this color, in fact they were that horrid brassy color with those awful insets of velvet. My friend showed me how to remove the inset and I painted them, first a brown under color (created with Primer Red and Olive Green ASCP), then went over them with Coco and then wax. I had a professional do the mirror.
After those frames, I looked for more frames.....and found one for a print that needed framing....which hangs in the bedroom next to the door to the bathroom....
That one got painted in the same way.....
Then I found two matching smaller frames, same style, and we put a print from a trip inside those, they were also painted the same way....
Although with these, I put just a bit of old white on details.....
I vowed, being somewhat enamored with these types of frames I would get them when I saw them....for a good price though....
I found one last year, it went here...
This one is in French Linen in the dining room.....
If you know me at all, you know I love to layer frames....It's like a giant frame and  matting....it draws the eye into the art with art. Yeah, I think frames are art in themselves....and yes, yes I am smitten.....
It is a bit crazy I know, but really, why not?
So, that being said, and history laid out...here is what I found....a frame, in that style, for $5. Yes! Really! $5 and of course it was a really awful "antique brass" and an inset, but no longer...it is beautiful in French Linen and no inset.....

...in my front hall.
I played with the paint on this one...with touches of primer red, old ochre and french linen....just because....
I think it makes a sweet vignette....
Anyway....I like them...
Tomorrow, I will show you the quilt. With all but its binding...I finished it yesterday!!
Hope you have a great day!
Nancy

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Around the House....

So, ever have one of those days where you set out to do one thing, and end up with a multitude of things done??
Yeah, yesterday was like that. In fact, it didn't start very well. I set out to "stitch in the ditch" on the quilt I've been working on.
Honestly, I hate this part! I much prefer the artistic creating that comes with free motion quilting. This part is awful....in fact, somehow I broke two needles! I figured it had to be the quilt pulling on the needle as it was pulled through. Usually, quilting centers me....but not this day!
So, I took frequent trips away from the quilting and did something else. Tomorrow I will show you one of the things I did accomplish.....that will be a surprise.
Anyway, one of the trips away I was looking at fabrics and came across some "toppers" I used to have on the dining chairs. Funny, they looked appealing...so I brought them out...

It's so fun to refresh for $0! I threw on one of the table runners and added a "splash" of something in the center.
I also got some laundry done....
But, after I got a bit settled and got the needle fixed and picked the thread, I went ahead and "played" with quilting.

 The pictures don't really show what I've done here...sad, I wanted to share....but this is a scallop design in the center and traced the lines on the outside of the square....
 The center part here got traced and vines on outside....
 Same here.....
And here you almost can see I used a fill technique after tracing the plants in the center.....
As you can guess...I have lots more to do....I will show you after it is done.....
But after I closed up the craft room for the day, I tidied the hutch and realized the corks we save were overflowing, so.....
I started a tray!! Because the corks were super dried....they have odd shapes now...but no matter....
Only problem is I used them all....darn we have to drink more.....30 bottles or so....This will be sidelined for awhile. I bought this tray backing at a thrift store a bit ago, it is my favorite for this and then I will add handles.....
Well, I guess that is all I got done yesterday...today, since I am not babysitting, I plan on doing more quilting and maybe going to the farmers market, if I need a break...
Hope you have a great day!!
Nancy