Outdoor Wednesday

Outdoor Wednesday. Today I am joining southern daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday which she sponcers and I'd like to take you on a Garden tour that my local Garden Club sponsored last week. There were 10 amazingly beautiful gardens from newly planted to 10 year old seasoned ones to one that had wonderful entertaining areas.
Come walk down these beautiful sandstone stepping stones with lovely roses planted on either side.
The Day Lilies are at their spectacular best in all colors. These white ones stood out among the lovely chartreuse green.

This lush vegetable garden is on a hillside with rows of basil, tomatoes, peas and grapes. This gardener even has a trough of special food for the deer so they will be content before they enter her yard.
At another yard, looking down about 15', these hosta leaves are at least 15" across. I have never seen such large beautiful, large leaves!
The lavendar is growing very well in our next garden and gives off a lovely scent as we walk by.
Of course we must check out the container gardens too like this one with its geraniums and (oh, what is the name of this purple flower?--can't remember)
I was trying to get close to this coneflower but I got a little too close. At any rate they are lovely in their beautiful pink dresses.
Can you make out this basket of boxwood with ivy handle holding pink roses inside it. It is about 6' long.
There are two seating areas here among the rocks and shade of the large oak tree. A great place to take a rest and have a view of the rest of the yard which is lovely.
Water is a nice feature in any yard and the trickle heard from this fountain is refreshing as we walk by.
I hope you take advantage of any garden tours in your area. It is a delightful way to spend a summer morning. After I got home I headed right for the nearest garden center as I was inspired to add to my own garden. To view more Outdoor Wednesday click here.
Happy summer garden!


Friend Makin' Monday-April in Paris

Today Jolanthe at No Ordinary Moments is hosting Friend makin' Monday.
Our task is to tell the best or worst vacation I've ever taken and to tell places that I would like to go on a vacation. Since this is the time for vacations this is a fun one to think about. I have had a lot of great vacations. One that was so fun was to the Loire valley in France. A friend of ours was care taking a chateau for a year and suggested that we visit him there. We landed in Paris first on the first day of April so it was really like the song, April in Paris. Then we drove to the beautiful valley in central France known for it's chateaus (or castles) . Fred, and the two of us were the only ones that used the beautiful centuries old castle except for the owner had a German Shepherd and he was also on the property. The gorgeous, intricately carved, 20 ' tall iron gate greeted us and I was taken by the wonderful old architecture there as well as the beautiful grounds with spring just peeping through the ground. There were very old trees on the large property and a lovely stream meandering through it. It was so fairy tale-like. Each day we would go with Fred to a different brachant (flea market). I would tell Fred what I would like to buy, and with his perfect French would bargain for the goods. I did pretty well with my high school french and pointing to buy the fresh bakery items at each small town's patisserie--croissants and french bread or wonderful pastry with custard and raisins. Fred knew each town's special little cafe' which were family-owned so he would take us to a different one each night. After dinner we would walk the streets of the little villages as he would tell us the history of it. One of the towns history was Joan of Ark. I loved the ages old handmade cement planters at each home filled with trailing flowers that were so welcoming as we walked past. Every picture I took was post card-worthy because it was so beautiful from the primroses along the bank of the stream to simple front doors to the rooftops. We were there just a week. It was just the best vacation ever! I wish I could post pictures of it for you.
Some other places I would like to visit are:
Umbria, Italy
Kirkland, Ohio
Victoria, Canada
and back to France
What was your best vacation? To read more click here.
I hope you are enjoying your summer no matter where you are.


Foodie Friday-Greek Salad

Thanks to Designs by Gollum for hosting Foodie Fridayeach week. It is a chance to get new ideas for food to prepare. Join in the fun. Today I focus on salad.
I've been eating a lot of salad lately (trying to fit into my last year's pants) and this combination really satisfies my hunger.
Greek Salad
2 big handfuls of baby spinach
4-5 leaves romaine lettuce
1/4c. feta cheese
1/4c or more pitted kalamata olives
1/2c or more cherry tomatoes
1/4c. thinly sliced red onion
1/2-1 grilled chicken breast, sliced

(I add some or all of these herbs right out of my garden: basil, sage, oregano, rosemary)
Some days I add zucchini slices or summer squash slices or green pepper to the mix.
I started by making my own Greek salad dressing, then my daughter introduced me to Kraft Greek Vinaigrette salad dressing and I really love the taste of it instead. You can serve this with pita pockets or Greek flat bread.
I hope you like this quick and easy summer salad!
For more tempting recipes click here.


Friend Makin' Monday

Today is Friend Makin' Monday and Kellie at Dandelion Wishes is hosting. Our task for today is to tell some of our favorite things. So here we go!
1. Granola. I've been making my own this summer and really love it in the mornings with my milk and either raspberries or a banana. It does have dried fruit in it but I guess I just like more fruit.
2. Down pillows. We received two down pillows for our wedding many years ago and I just think they feel the softest and they don't give me a stiff neck in the morning like I get when I sleep on something other than the down.
3. Warm summer night breezes. Having moved from California where you don't go out at night without a jacket, I feel spoiled when it is warm in the evenings here. Of course, it cools down some so that the temperature drops too.
4. My family. Having spent some time together over the holiday I can appreciate them even more because they are both funny, concerned about one another, and it is fun to be with them.
5. The gospel in my life. It is my north star guiding me in the way I should go.
6. Little notebooks. I must have one in my purse to jot down an idea, a quote, or just a note to self.
7. Friends. Having moved here a year and a half ago, I must say that making new ones is not easy. I appreciate and love my old ones as well as my new acquaintances.
8. A good book. One that is well written, with good descriptions and a plot that moves you along so that you can't wait to be reading it again. Right now I am reading A Tre Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.
9. Beautiful views. I love the mountains, the ocean, tall wooded trees and beautiful architecture of old buildings
10. A clean house. I probably put that now because I have all my house staring me in the face saying "clean me, please".
To read more favorite things of other bloggers click here.
A have a happy day!


Summer Bag Giveaway

Melissa from the Inspired Room is having a fabulous giveaway--a wonderful bag from Elisa Lou Designs. One lucky winner will be able to win a cute and stylish bag. That is not all, Melissa even will pay 25% of the cost of your order herself if you want to order more bags. Now, that is generous don't you think? Visit her today (click here) to see these bags and visit Elisa Lou to see all the variety of choices for other bags. These would be a colorful summer statement to go with all your summer wear.
Happy summer!


Cooking Class Recipes

For Foodie Friday I am posting recipes from a recent Cooking Class held at my home last week. The theme was Patriotic Desserts so it was very colorful with mostly red, white and blue foods.
These tarts were so easy and good!


(Five small thinly sliced strawberries form the stars on these tarts)
Red, White and Blue Star Tarts

Makes 4 tarts

½ (15 ounce) package refrigerated pie crust

2 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 (8 ounce) package frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup confectioners sugar

4 to 6 fresh strawberries, slices

12 fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 450. On a lightly floured surface, unroll crust. Using a 4 ½ inch round cutter, cut 4 circles from pie crust. Line 4 (4 inch) tart pans with prepared crusts; prick bottom of crusts with a fork. Place on a baking sheet.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks for 5 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, whipped topping and vanilla extract. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add confectioners sugar, beating until combined. Spoon cream cheese mixture into prepared crusts. Top with strawberries and blueberries in a decorative star pattern.

Watermelon Slush

Makes 4 servings

4 cups (1 inch cubes) seedless watermelon, frozen

1 ½ cups hulled and quartered strawberries, frozen

3 tbsp fresh lime juice

2 tbsp simple syrup (recipe follows)

1/8 tsp salt

In the container of an electric blender, combine watermelon, strawberries, lime juice, syrup and salt. Process for 30 seconds or until mixture is smooth. Serve immediately. (Note: I found that thawing the watermelon for a few minutes first helped it "blend" in the blender instead of getting stuck on top with the blades whirring nothing around below)

Simple Syrup

Makes about 1 ½ cups

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool. Chill at least 4 hours.

Blackberry Cobbler

Makes 12 servings

3 (16 ounce) packages frozen blackberries, thawed

1 cup sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 (24 count) package Mary B’s frozen bite-sized butter milk tea biscuits

1 tbsp butter, melted

1 tbsp sugar

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine blackberries, 1 cup sugar and flour. Spoon into a 13 x 9 baking dish.

Arrange biscuits on top of fruit layer, pressing down gently. Brush biscuits with melted butter. In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over biscuits.

Bake for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Note: Since I could not find Mary B's biscuits I used Pillsbury cinnamon twists instead and cut them into small sections. Because the twists come with cinnamon on them I put the sugar/cinnamon mixture directly onto the blackberries instead.)


Cookies on a Stick

Makes 15 cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

15 craft sticks

1 (16 ounce) container vanilla icing

garnish: assorted liquid food coloring, gel icing and assorted cookie sprinkles

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy Add sugar and confectioners sugar, beating until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, beating to combine.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until smooth.

Divide dough into 2 balls, wrap each one in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to ¼ inch thickness. Using assorted 3” cutters, (We used a star cutter) cut out cookies and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Gently press a craft stick into the bottom third of each cooked. Chill cookies for 15 minutes before baking.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on pan for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks and cool completely.

Dye vanilla icing with desired liquid food colors. Spread icing to ¼ inch from edges of cookies. Decorate cookies with gel icing and sprinkles if desired.

_DSC0512It was a fun and tasty morning! To be tempted by more food and recipes click here.
Happy 4th of July!!


Pictures from the Cooking Class

Last week I had a cooking class with 21 women at my home. Since I was busy conducting the class, my kind neighbor. Kathie, took pictures for me of the food and of my house decorated for the 4th. She put them on her blog and I have copied the decorating ones below. Tomorrow I will share the recipes and food pictures from her blog.

Celebrating the 4th of July!

We all know that family traditions evolve over time, but its fun to glean and gather ideas from others to add to our own traditions.

Its just plain fun to throw a party now and then! And our neighbor, Jean, knows just how to do it! I got the date mixed up and knocked at her door a day early. Oh my, I felt a bit foolish to have come on the wrong day but so glad I got a glimpse of her preparations so I could come back the next day bearing my camera. Her front door was so welcoming and festive and un-mistakenly patriotic. All of her decorations radiated warmth and friendliness.



There is nothing like fresh blooming plants to make a lovely statement. Notice Jean’s old trunk container.


Hat boxes, baskets, jars and planters of every size and style are re-cycled through the year to make the current holiday extraordinary.

_DSC0454 Patio table decorated with flags & lantern.


The entry table held a basket with a gift for each guest. These were New England poppers, hand made inexpensively by Tanja . The treat inside was not only taffy, but the poppers were filled with such things as a paper crown and a joke inside each!


The tables were festively arranged with paper, glass, tin and plastic dishware, all combined artfully and inexpensively. Paper drink umbrellas and pinwheels were made from paper patterns that you can print out from Martha Stewart Clipart . Making your own decorations will give you a great feeling of accomplishment.



Red & white tablecloth below is really a quilt used as a cover.


Jean demonstrates pinwheel that she printed off and made from the Martha Stewart link above._DSC0475

Jean got lots of friends involved with the preparation of the food. Each food presentation was very beautiful as well as tasty. Getting others involved and sharing the cooking and food preparation make the hard part of a party easy.


Using pottery batter bowls, glass candy jars, baskets, lanterns and even a little red wagon to hold red white and blue candies, were charming and creative. We all went home with our heads full of inspiration and our tummies full of yummy foods, thanks to all who participated.


_DSC0449 Country decor includes patriotic pillows with red, white & blue.

_DSC0453 Napkins simply strung on a piece of string to make this garland.


Invitations were decorated popsicle sticks that were put in an envelope loose and then the recipient put together the puzzle.


Luminary sacks were lit to decorate the railing.

_DSC0488Red licorice in a bowl,


Fabric buntings-eased onto a rod.


Cute “chalkboard” made out of recycled cupboard front.

Happy 4th!! Tomorrow I will share the recipes for the yummy desserts