Cleaning or Gardening?

We have family coming to visit both this weekend and next followed by an old friend. I have put off cleaning for as long as I can, so that is my task today. Since there is really not much of a story line or photos I'd want to share on the topic of cleaning I'm going to leave you today with some images of the flowers, herbs and a nice zucchini from my gardens.
My herb garden with Tia keeping out the rabbit.

Batchelor buttons, one of my favorites

Zinnias from seeds my friend Joan gave me.

Pumpkin blossoms! I'm hoping for 23 pumpkins!

We found this rose in the front buried between ferns getting no sun. We moved it and were gifted with five beautiful flowers.

Last but not least, tonights dinner!


Bread and Butter Pickles

I went to the Farmer's Market on Saturday and cucumbers were everywhere. It is pickle season!!!! I bought two pails and made some dill pickles and bread and butter pickles. I remember my mom making bread and butter pickles when I was a kid. The distinct smell of warm vinegar and spices filled the air. I didn't much care for the smell when I was a kid but my sense of smell seems to have matured and now I love it. Here is the recipe I used from The Complete Book of Year Round Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. It is a nice book with all sorts of recipes for jams, chutneys, relishes and pickles that use, as the title suggests, small amounts of fruits and vegetables.

Best Bread and Butter Pickles

4lb small pickling cucmbers

4 small onions, thinly sliced

1 sweet green pepper, cut in thin strips

1 sweet red pepper, cut in thin strips

2 Tbsp pickling salt

4 cups cider vinegar

3 cups granulated sugar

2 Tbsp mustard seeds

1 tsp celery seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp ground cloves

Cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber and cut into medioum thick slices, about 3/16 inch. Place cucumbers, onions and peppers in a non-reactive container, sprinkle with salt and let stand for 3 hours; drain. Rinse twice and drain thoroughly.

Combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, turmeric and cloves in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add vegetables and return to a boil for 30 seconds or just until cucumbers are no longer bright green.

Remove hot jars from canner. Remove vegetables from liquid with a slotted spoon; pack into jars. Pour liquid over vegetables to within 1/2 inch of rim. Process 10 minutes for pint jars and 15 minutes for quart jars.


Renate Hiller - "On Handwork"

As an artist I have bumped up against the some negative thoughts about why I make things. Does it even matter if I am a maker? What good does it do the world if I create these little dolls, embroideries, food or even this blog? Who even cares?

As you might expect, thoughts like these paralyze me and nothing gets created. I have cut myself off from the inspiration that drives creation.

If you too have had this experience I suggest you watch this video. Renate Hiller, Co-Founder of the Fiber Craft Studio, talks about the importance and meaning of creating, not just for yourself but the greater world. It may help you get your intentions back in alignment and the understanding to know that using your hands for creation is for the greater good.


Comfort Doll Project

"Serve the needs of others, and all your needs will be fulfilled." I just read this quote by Wayne Dyer and it helped me to decide what to blog about today.

The Comfort Doll Project was started by Pat Winters with the purpose of reaching out to women in domestic abuse shelters to let them know they are powerful and not alone. The blog and the project is now run by Brenda Hutchings but its purpose remains the same. People make small dolls (6 inches or less) and mail them to Brenda. A small card with a lovely message is attatched to them and they are mailed to women's shelters around the country.

Please go to their blog here, see the dolls that have been sent out, read the loving message and find out more. Maybe you would like to help with the project. Anyone can join in. I plan on being part of it.


Make Your Own Minion!

While I have not seen the movie Despicable Me, I think the Minions are pretty cute. If you are a knitter (and if you're not, this could be the nudge to get you to learn) go to Kat Knits for the pattern. She has very detailed instructions and they are just darling. How can you resist?


And the Winner Is....

I'll be popping your garland in the mail and you should recieve it soon.
Thank you to everyone who left comments, followed and linked this post! I loved reading your comments!


100th Post Giveaway

I can't believe this is my one hundredth post!!!

I have decided to mark the occasion with a giveaway. As you know, awhile back I was making star garlands and posted the directions. Well, I continue to be enamoured with garlands and so will be giving away this multi-colored floral garland. It is about 49 inches long and has small loops at each end to help with hanging. I think it would be fantastic to hang at a birthday party or in a little girls bedroom window!

Now, how to win...leave a comment on this post for one chance to win, follow me and I will put your name in the hat twice, link me and it will go in three times! Your comment must be posted by midnight central time on Wednesday and I will draw a name on Thursday. Please be sure to leave me a way to contact you (blog link or e-mail address). Good luck and thanks for reading! It is the comments and interactions with readers that make blogging so much fun!



Last night we got wave after wave of storms and a lot of rain fell. It is beautiful today, sunny, no humidity and a lovely breeze. I was out in the garden and noticed a tomato stalk had fallen over so I walked in to tie it back up. I sunk about eight inches into the mud! I couldn't pull my feet out and I was wearing my favorite flip flops and was afraid the strap would break. The only way out was to sit down and scoop the mud away with my hands and pull my feet out. I had to go back in the muck and rescue my shoes. What a mess!!! I have never really understood how quicksand worked...I'm pretty clear on that now! Me and my shoes are all hosed off, thanks to my husband. It made for a pretty big laugh!

His comment was, "If I'd fallen in the mud you would have made me sit there til you went and got your camera so you could blog about it." I'd thought about asking him to get my camera but really wanted to rescue my flip flops. So here is a photo of my clean toes!
Ooooh, and one more thing, this is my 99th post to this blog, so my next one will be 100!!! I am planning a give-away so come back and find out how to enter!



I planted arugula for one reason, a salad I had over 13 years ago while on vacation in St. John, US Virgin Islands. I had never had it before but after trying it I, occasionally, would re-create the salad. It was a very simple salad of arugula, toasted walnuts, goat cheese and a very mild vinaigrette. I have been enjoying this salad for a good while this summer, but last night I found myself without goat cheese (woe is me!) in the house, but I had a mango. So I made the exact same salad and sliced the mango into it. I actually think it is better than the original. The spicy arugula, tart and salty vinaigrette, earthy walnuts and sweet mango was an amazing combination. While I haven't measured exactly the ingredients, here is the recipe. Be sure to taste the vinaigrette as you make it so it suits your taste.

Arugula, Mango and Walnut Salad
large bunch of arugula, washed
handful of walnuts, toasted
1 mango sliced
1 clove garlic
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil or more to taste
salt and pepper
To toast the walnuts put them in a small pan over medium high heat and leave for about 3-5 minutes stirring often making sure they dont burn. When they start to brown and you can smell a nice toasted nutty smell they are done. Remove from pan and set aside.
To make viniagrette mash together the salt and garlic clove to make a paste. Add the garlic paste to the mustard, vinegar and stir. Slowly pour olive oil into vinegar mixture all the while whisking. This will form a nice emulsion. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Put it all together. Put arugula walnuts and mango in a bowl and drizzle enough vinaigrette to coat but not drown salad. Toss. Serve immediately
Variation To make the original salad substitute crumbled goat cheese for the mango.

What's your favorite arugula recipe? As you can see, I have a lot in my garden!


Relaxing in the Garden

This weekend we went to visit our families and had a whirlwind time. There was something going on all the time, which was quite fun but when I got home last night I was zonked. So this morning I decided it would be very tranquil to go out and take some photos of my garden.

Pumpkin Blossoms

Gardens are such a process, you can't plant them and have them finished in an hour like you can say, a video game, a recipe, or even an art project. They make you slow down and appreciate the tiny bud that appears, the new tendril, the fruit that will be your dinner someday. And they are so beautiful along the way. Here are a few shots of my garden this morning.

The End


Coconut Macaroons

This weekend we are going to a celebratory gathering for my nephews high school graduation. I offered to bring some cookies and so began a search through cookbooks for a good cookie. I believe there will be a lot of kid food there so I wanted to have something that would appeal more to the adults in the crowd. I was thinking I would make some frosted lemon cookies. I will admit the amount of work the recipe I found was going to take made me hesitate. But then, I found a recipe for coconut macaroons. I had never made them, but do really love them. The recipe called for only four ingredients, and while the baking time was long, the whipping up time was short. They are really sweet, but mmmmm, mmmmmm good!

A few notes on the recipe...first off it calls for cake flour but I used regular flour and it worked just fine. It also calls for loosely packed coconut, but I would pack it fairly well, my first batch was very flat and sticky. After adding more coconut I was able to get a nice mound shape that held. And finally, I used both parchment paper and a silicone mat for lining the baking sheets and the parchment paper was the hands down best.

So, here is the recipe which came from Baking in America by Greg Patent. Enjoy!

Coconut Macaroons
1/2 cup cake flour
2 1/2 cups loosely packed sweetened flaked coconut
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with cooking parchment or a silicone liner. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and coconut, tossing well with your fingertips to coat the coconut with the flour. Add the condensed milk and vanilla and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until well combined. The mixture will be stiff.

Spoon rounded regular teaspoonsful of the mixture onto the baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart and making 20 mounds.

Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet from front to back once during baking. Increase the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 6 to 10 minutes more, only until the macaroons are golden brown all over; do not overbake. Carefully transfer to cooling racks and cool completely. Serve very fresh.


A Perfect Summer Meal

Last night I made a delicious meal of pasta with roasted vegetables. I took some summer squash, cherry tomatoes, red onions and garlic, seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled with olive oil and roasted at 450 for 40 minutes. Then tossed the vegetables with pasta, some homemade pesto and a bit of parmesan cheese. It was great. I can't wait for the leftovers tonight!!!!!


Fairie-ality Enchanted Fashion

This is my second book review in my occasional series. The book I have chosen is Fairie-ality, an amazing trip through a fantasy filled fashion catalog. All of the fairie fashions are created with natural materials; pressed, dried and fresh flowers, leaves, grasses, feathers and shells. The book begins with an invitation to view the new fashion collection from the House of Ellwand. You will find attire appropriate for a Cotillion held by the Queen, May Day outfits including hats and shoes, playwear featured in a section called Fun and Games, and of course a Wedding ensemble.

The clothing is a real treat but so are the beautiful photographs and graphics. Some pages are vellum giving a smoky view of the image to come, there is a collection of mix and match clothes with half pages of designs so you can turn all of the pants over and see another set, and small envelopes so you have things to discover inside. It is a wonder of inspiration and fun. You won't look at your summer flowers in the same way again.
The first image is the cover and the lower one is the bridemaid's dress.


Happy Fourth of July

Here is wishing all of you a wonderfully festive Fourth of July holiday weekend. I hope you are visiting family and friends, eating delicious summer food and playing in the sun. Be safe as well! I will be back with more inspiration next week.


Vintage Pillow

I have had this piece of embroidered fabric for a long time. My maternal Grandma embroidered it and it originally was made into a fabric bag with a wooden handle. I believe she kept her "fancy work" in it. Over time the handle broke and I took the bag apart with the idea that I would make myself a bag. I had bought a nice cotton for the lining but everytime I went to make it I felt like I wasn't making the best thing for the fabric. I even had it marked where to cut for a clutch purse but when I went to cut it the other day I couldn't.

Then yesterday it just popped into my head to make a pillow. Once that idea came to me I had it made in about an hour. I used the fabric purchased for the lining for the welting and back. It looks great in my guest room. I wish all of the fabric I have around here would tell me what it wants to be!!! Or maybe I just have to listen a little closer.