Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter, fabulous Mail, Cupcakes and Baked Chicken that will knock your socks off!

Wishing you a very Happy Easter Sunday!
I took these photos of the blooming pink Dogwood tree by the pool
last Wednesday after the forecast indicated a freeze was headed our way!
I couldn't bear the thought of losing everything that is blooming in the
gardens so I photographed everything and then brought in what I could!
These tulips were just taking selfies in the bright
warm sunshine on the deck a few days earlier... See?
But by Wednesday they were closed tight and shivering!
So I conducted a mercy-killing and brought them inside...
Where they immediately thanked me by smiling again!
Fortunately for all of us, Spring returned just in time for Easter!
By the time I finished having a pedi on Good Friday, Army Dad had the gardens
cleaned up and the lawns mowed in preparation for our long weekend together!
Oh, how I love this view!
As I admired this view in front of the living room window, I wished there was a
way to bring it inside. So often we hear birds chirping from the Japanese maple
trees as we sit in the sectional, which is just below the window... I find that I'm
turning around to watch the birds in the garden more than I watch television!
Then it hit me! What I needed was a rear-view mirror for the television wall!
Fortunately, I found one that fits right in! Now, I get that most people who
see it will consider it poorly placed on this wall. However, for us, this mirror
delivers the perfect view of the garden! Reclined in my favorite spot, I'm able
to see both Japanese maples, lots of birds and even the new birdhouse!
Speaking of rear-views... I finally got around to having my annual haircut
yesterday so as you can see, my hair is no longer resting on my butt! My
mom called just as I was leaving the salon and when I told her how short I
went, she made me promise to post a photo (to prove it!) So here you are,
mom... I know it's not quite as short as you would have it, but it's a start!
Oh! I almost forgot to tell you that Good Friday was an
especially great mail day for me - Here... See for yourself!
How perfectly fitting it was to receive my autographed copy of Martha's
book on the same day a package sent by my dear friend David arrived!
You know, I consider David the go-to source for all things Martha by Mail
on-line... Therefore, when David shared with me that he might be willing to
share some of his duplicate Martha Collection (for Macy*s) products and
vintage Martha by Mail items, I eagerly asked him to please... Count me in!
Especially where these charming wire trays are concerned! I missed them when
they were available through the Martha by Mail catalog and, since we didn't yet
have a Macy*s here when they came back there, I missed them a second time!
Fortunately, David and I are very similar so he purchased extras... Extras
which are thankfully now part of my kitchen! David is indeed a purveyor
of Good Things and I'll always be in his debt for sharing these wire
racks and so many other things with me! Speaking of Good Things...
Thanks to a Facebook posting by a friend, which I noticed just in time... I
picked up this autographed copy of Martha Stewart's beautiful Cakes,
which came wrapped in this fun linen tea towel by STUDIOPATRO!
Which got me thinking... I sure have been missing my collection
of Martha Stewart books, which have been part of my kitchen's d├ęcor
since Martha first began publishing! I removed them from the wall
after installing the pot rack, assuming it would look too cluttered...
But I regretted it... So I moved them to the wall by the kitchen table
after giving my collection of Jadeite away, (another decision I still
regret!) However, over the table always made them difficult to reach!
So yesterday, I decided to rush home and pull those shelves out of
storage! Of course, convincing the man who just took those shelves down
two weeks ago because I found a plate rack I wanted over the table a little
more would be a challenge. So I stopped at the market... Because surely
mentioning that I would be using the Beekman 1802 Bourbon barbecue
sauce over my baked chicken he loves so much would do the trick... Right?
Of course it did! In fact, those shelves were back up on
the wall before the chicken made it into the oven!
And, while the clutter-bug inside of me gave a slight kick...
I think it's well worth having my collection back on display and within reach!
In fact, I was so grateful and so inspired to stay in my kitchen, I decided to bake!
Cupcakes worthy of being displayed on David's wonderful wire racks!
Which, I'm delighted to say these are!
After the cupcakes finished baking I also decided only a chocolate Bundt
cake dessert would do for today's Easter Sunday dinner! But, it wouldn't
be this boxed one I passed at the Honey Baked Ham store as I picked up
our Easter ham! By the way, did you know that during holidays, the ham
bones I use in my ham and bean soup are buy-one-get-one? They are,
which is why there are now four of those ham-laden bones in my freezer!
Seriously, I have yet to find a more delicious honey baked ham than those
at the Honey Baked Ham store; however, dessert must be home-made!
So I baked a chocolate Bundt cake with
all that time I saved not baking our ham!
A few sprinkles on my Easter cupcakes later...
And, my baked BBQ chicken was ready for dinner! Honestly... If
you haven't already ordered some of this Fabulous Beekman Boys
barbecue sauce, you absolutely must... Because it is incredible!
My husband said it was the best my baked chicken ever tasted,
which is saying something because he always raves about it!
So, ladies... If you need shelves installed a third time or even
your whole kitchen remodeled... Now you know how to get there!
Happy Easter Sunday to you and all you love! To me Easter always feels
like a second New Year's celebration! There's Spring and the rebirth of our
gardens and most importantly, Easter is the Promise of Ever-Lasting Life!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Inspired through Inspiring Others... An Easter Cookie Story!

Although I've been busy creating cookies the past few weeks, I did
not cut, roll, bake or decorate one Easter cookie of my own this year!
Which, if you've been reading for a while and remember this post and
this post, you know is quite unusual for me... Especially since I own the
most perfect Easter cookie cutter set ever made and love to use it!
Nevertheless, although I didn't create Easter cookies of my own this year, I'm
delighted for the privilege of introducing you to a few people who are very special
to me that did! First, we have long-time reader and my dear friend, Leah... Who
surprised me with photos of this lovely vintage Easter egg cookie collection she
created using the same vintage Marth by Mail Egg Cookie Cutters I have!
Now, Leah and I are both fans of Julia Usher and follow Julia's blog too. So,
when Julia wrote this post about rubber-stamping cookies I was intrigued...
Meaning, I was too intimidated to try! But not Leah! Leah jumped right in...
Putting together the supplies she needed to get right to work! Just
look at all of these beautifully stamp-decorated cookies Leah created!
I especially love the soft colors she chose and the style of the bead decoration Leah
used to outline her cookies. The elegant cream-tone color combination makes for
a delicate vintage Victorian look! I think Leah's cookies are stunning, don't you?
Of course, Leah being her sweet self, she was quick to point out what
she said were flaws in her stamping... She called this trio her sweet misfits!
Of course, I reminded Leah there are no misfits, only cookies voted most likely to be
eaten first... ha! Besides, the beauty of stamping cookies is that missing outlines can
easily be sketched in with edible markers or covered embellished with icing! So
what about you? Are you as inspired by Leah to rubber-stamp cookies as I am? Ever
since I saw Leah's cookies, I've been looking at rubber stamps in a whole new way!
Honestly, I don't know how Leah's able to create cookies at all... Because
if her sweet Oscar-kitty were mine, I'd have difficultly leaving his side!
Inspiring each other... That's what this cookie thing is all about! Which brings
me to the next introduction I feel honored to make to you... You see, a few days
ago, I received the following e-mail from one of my readers and Oui, Sugar!
customers, Teri from Happy Valley, Oregon: Hi, Janet! Well cookie decorating
party #2 is in the books with my some of my adult cousins (after hosting at
Christmas they begged for an Easter session as well). What fun we have
decorating cookies inspired by your beauties! Your royal icing recipe is the
best -- fresh lemon juice makes all the difference as you say! Here are a couple
photos of our fun - both orders of your fabulous icing bottles were put to
great use! Our cookies pale in greatness to yours but we know you will be proud
of our efforts! Thanks for inspiring so many people across this beautiful nation,
Janet! Have a very Blessed Easter! Teri  - Wow! I have to tell you, there are days
when I think no one reads... So why bother writing? Then, I hear from readers like
Leah and Teri and not only do I find myself inspired by what they're doing with
their cookies, I begin to believe this blog is contributing and worth continuing
after all! I must also admit that seeing my Oui, Sugar! Decorating Kit and
those decorating squeeze bottles I love so much in action on Teri's table
makes me feel quite proud of the work I put into my Oui, Sugar! store too. So,
without further delay, please join me in sending some big cookie-decorating
love to three out of the seven members of Teri's family that made up this
Easter cookie party! Clockwise from top we have: Teri's cousin Joanne, her
sister Traci and cousin Mary. Hello, ladies - We all love your cookies!
I see perfectly baked cookies by Teri's sister, Toni! And Sanding Sugar,
sprinkles and royal icing decorating techniques that were executed perfectly
to create darling Easter cookies I know Teri's whole family will be delighted
to discover tucked into their Easter baskets this Easter Sunday weekend!
In Teri's e-mail she said she knew I would be proud of their cookies
and I am... More than they know! I say, Bravo! and, Well Done!
to sisters, Teri, Toni, Traci and their sweet cousins, Joanne and Mary!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring's Garden Songs and and one Flirty Cardinal!

This Palm Sunday found us outside in the garden!
Where the pink dogwood trees and bleeding hearts are
in full bloom and literally... Taking my breath away!
Everything is blooming. Everything is waking up!
Thanks to a little breeze, Spring's music is in the trees too!
I have been very busy today welcoming each
and every tree back from its long winter's nap!
During my exploration of the gardens I found this little egg... It
makes me sad to think of the little birdie that didn't make it!
Speaking of birds... This cardinal has been wooing his lady all day
long. We've watched them fly across the yard at least a hundred times!
She flies away first. He calls to her and, eventually, he follows...
Here he is stalking her from within the branches of
this Canadian Hemlock I affectionately call Cousin It!
I see you!
You handsome devil, you!
I don't know how she resists you...
Honestly, I don't!
Yes, I'm talking about you!
Speaking of stunners... My husband's tulips have been
smiling up at this gorgeous bright sunshine all day!
I love his Spring bloomers!
In case you wondered, this is what it looks like when Tulips take selfies!
By the way... If you haven't picked up the May issue of Martha Stewart Living,
you must. I've just spent the entire afternoon pouring over every page!
This pancake skillet is now high on my list of recipes to try!
I sooo want that table!
Oh, Yellowware... How I love thee!
I'm delighted you decided to join me for this peek into our Spring
gardens on this beautiful Palm Sunday. Before you go, I hope you'll
enjoy this video of today's Spring Song I recorded just for you!
I also hope this week leading up to Easter treats you especially sweet!