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Archive for July, 2012

A couple weeks ago, Captain Cavedweller and I took a week of escape and ventured to a bigger city where there are all kinds of fabulous wonders like shopping malls, IMAX theaters, unlimited dining options, zoos, botanical gardens and did I mention shopping malls?

One day, we wandered through a lovely rose garden and, making CC pack my camera for me wherever we went, I snapped a few shots.

The garden welcomes visitors with this wonderful statue of the woman the rose garden is named after.

 

I don’t know why, but the fountain with the bright blue water fascinated me more than it probably should have.

 

It really is a lovely and well-kept rose garden with fun walkways and interesting landscape elements.

 

And the roses…

were absolutely…

gorgeous!

She Who Could Spend Hours Smelling Roses

 

 

 

 

 

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Cosmos…

So bright…

So cheery…

So perfectly summery against a brilliant blue sky.

She Who Loves Summer Flowers

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If the world suddenly became devoid of chocolate, I might (and that is purely speculation with no proven theory) be able to survive with raspberries.

My love of them is why, during the summer months, there is usually a bowl of them languishing in the fridge. The other night I decided I had to do something with the berries or wave a regretful goodbye to their juicy goodness, so I whipped up some raspberry cream cheese squares. Yummy and easy to make, you can have these ready to go in just minutes.

Ingredients

 

Mix softened cream cheese, egg, vanilla and sugar.

 

Gently fold in raspberries.

 

Use two crescent triangles for each square. Crimp the edges together to form a rectangle.

 

Spoon filling into pastry, fold pastry in half, like a pocket or square.

Seal edges by crimping with a fork.

 

Sprinkle tops with raw sugar (please make sure your hands are dry before attempting this other wise the only thing that gets sugared is your fingers – not that I know about these things.)

Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown (about 15-20 minutes). By then, the smell will be tempting you!

 

Melt vanilla frosting in the microwave for about 10-12 seconds and drizzle over the top.

 

Serve and enjoy!

Raspberry Cream Cheese Squares

1 can crescent dinner rolls

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups fresh raspberries

vanilla frosting

raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat with non-stick spray. Unroll crescent dough and form four rectangles by connecting triangles together. Make sure to pinch seams together so filling won’t leak out.

Combine cream cheese, egg, vanilla and sugar, mixing until well blended. Gently fold in raspberries. Spoon filling onto half of a rectangle of dough then fold the other half over to create a square. Seal edges by crimping with a fork. Sprinkle with raw sugar and bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Warm about a tablespoon of frosting in the microwave for about 10 seconds, until thin, then drizzle over squares.

Plate and be prepared for the smiles of gratitude your family will send your way!

She Who Loves Raspberries

 

 

 

 

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A few weeks ago, I was invited to preview a new decorating magazine from Hearst Publications.  I accepted the offer and waited, somewhat skeptically, for it to arrive in my mailbox.

When it did, I was thrilled beyond words.

Easy Decorating is a fabulous, beautiful magazine that offers the best decorating and home tips from the editors of Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Country Living and Woman’s Day. I love it! It’s like the best of the best, all compiled in one glossy publication.

The home makeover tips that fill the pages are meant to help you turn your home into that dreamy space you’ve always wanted while keeping in mind that most of us have a limited budget. The colorful photographs combined with tips from experts in the field easily make Easy Decorating your go-to guide for all things related to decorating and transforming your living spaces.

You’ll find a section on weekend updates – quick and easy projects that can be accomplished in a weekend. These tips include everything from embellishing a shower curtain to creating one-of-a-kind napkin rings. One idea, in particular, that I loved from this section was adding molding to a plain side table for added decorating oomph.

There is an entire section entitled color and that is what it exudes  – bright, brilliant color. Beige has never seemed so blah after staring at these marvelous pages. There are actually 25 ideas to steal in this part of the magazine and all of them are so simple and easy. They even offer seven paint color suggestions for going bold.

You’ll find 25 more ideas to steal in the Pattern section that shows how to take your home from drab and dated to the cool kid on the block. Part of that section is a step-by-step guide in making covered boxes. Here are the directions:

Covered Boxes

Supplies:

·         Metal ruler

·         Shoeboxes

·         Craft knife

·         Wallpaper

·         Paintbrush

·         Scrapbooking paste

STEP 1 Measure the bottom and sides of shoebox, then add 1 inch to each side; cut a piece of wallpaper to this size.

STEP 2 Use paintbrush to apply scrap-booking paste to the base of the box and center it on a piece of wallpaper.

STEP 3 Line ruler along the side of the box so it extends beyond the edge.  Cut straight along the inside edges of your ruler to make a flap that’s the exact width of the box plus 1 inch.

STEP 4 Apply paste to the long flaps of wallpaper.  Pull one long flap up and around the short end of the box.  Tuck and adhere extra paper inside the box.  Repeat on opposite side.

STEP 5 Apply paste to short flaps.  Pull short flaps up and over box edge to adhere.

STEP 6 Repeat Steps 1 to 5 for box lid.

Wow! Isn’t this just a fun idea? Check out the garbage can, the covered boxes and binders as well as the coordinating pattern on the pencil holder and desktop. So colorful and fun!

Of course, with color and patterns, you’ve got to have some texture and they include 25 more ideas on bringing touchable textures into your home.

There are even ideas on how to completely change the look of a room with some very easy decorating ideas in the Before & After section.

Take this plain-vanilla living room for example.

Before…

and after!

What an amazing transformation to a beautiful space.

By adding a coat of soft blue paint, some interesting fabric and accent pieces and one colorful chair along with a new rug, the space becomes so much more inviting and appealing.

The final section in the magazine includes details – all those extra little touches that really make a house into a home. A few how-to projects are also included like how to turn flea-market finds into something fabulous, recovering an ottoman and covering a mirror frame with wallpaper.

This first issue offers readers the chance to win a sewing machine, get discount coupons on home decorating products and so much more!

If you love home decorating or just like to dream about what you could do differently in your home, most definitely take a look at Easy Decorating! I highly recommend it!

Easy Decorating is available for $9.99 and can be purchased at  supermarkets, newsstand or bookstore. A digital edition is also available at Zinio.com or Nook.bn.com. Readers can also access specials by checking out the magazine’s Facebook page at http://wwww.facebook.com/hearstspecials.

Photos courtesy of Hearst Magazines.

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This past weekend we attended a family reunion hosted by some wonderful people on my mom’s side of the family.

It was a blast.

We had the opportunity to connect with family we don’t see as often as I’d like, to meet extended family we’ve never seen before and enjoy some really, really good food.

Rather than ramble on and on about it, I’ll just share some photos…

Let’s start with the food. There was a lot of it and it was fantastic.

Especially the pit barbecue.

They dug a big pit, built a big fire, let it burn down to coals, wrapped the meat in foil then in burlap then laid it over the coals. They also wrapped up potatoes in foil and hung them in wire baskets from metal fence posts across the pit. The whole thing is then covered with tin then dirt and left to roast for about 12 hours. There was beef roast, beef ribs and lamb. So tender, so flavorful and so, so good.

First, they shoveled off the dirt covering the beef pit.

Then they removed the tin.

Then you could see meat and potatoes waiting to be taken to the hungry masses.

They grabbed the wire baskets of potatoes and removed them first.

Which, by the way, were so yummy!

Then they fished out the meat.

They took it to a table and unwrapped the meat.

And after letting it rest a few minutes, they started carving.

While the meat and potatoes were coming out of the pit, dad decided to set up another tent. That’s him giving directions.

Young and old alike gathered for a fun time of visiting…

catching up…

and eating.

After everyone was stuffed, photos of family groups were taken.

Which resulted in only a few moments of random chaos.

and a lot of fun.

Thanks to all who worked so hard to make the family reunion a great time for the rest of us!

She Who Has a Great Family

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The other day I was flipping through a magazine and saw an article about an event planner who hosted a party on her front porch.

What a fun idea!

I loved the thought of a casual gathering where people can come dressed for the summer season, sit back and relax with good food and great friends.

With your guests casually gathered outside, there is no need to worry about the dust bunnies hiding behind your couch or the wall in the kids room that really needs painted.  Just make sure your bathroom is sparkling and the kitchen is clean and you are ready to entertain!

Here are a few ideas to make the most of a party on your porch (or patio):

• Decorations – keep it simple. If you’ve already got pots of flowers outside on your porch, just leave them where they are. You can add a fresh bouquet to a table, if you like, but play off what you already have available.
String some fun lights along the edge of the porch and put flameless candles or lanterns around for some soft lighting if you plan to be out after the sun goes down. If you can, take time to sweep down the porch, remove any cobwebs and dust that may have accumulated and wipe down chair seats.

• Seating – create groupings of chairs and make sure you have enough places for everyone to sit. Some people might lean against a porch rail for a while, but eventually everyone will want to sit down. Kids can sit on porch steps if you are short on room or chairs.

•Invitations – send an email or make a phone call. No need to get fancy or formal. Make sure your guests know this is a super casual gathering.

• Food – serve finger foods.  These are easy for guests to nibble and pick at without being heavy. Don’t put your food all on one table. Use smaller tables and space them around the porch. You might have a beverage station, a dessert station, a table with cheese, fruit and crackers and another with meats and more filling appetizers like mini quiches or stuffed tomatoes. Keep cold foods chilled by placing trays or bowls in a container filled with ice. Use a child’s wagon, a galvanized tub, even a plastic storage tub will work. Just fill with ice and nestle in your serving pieces.

• Beverages – make this easy on you by offering just a couple selections. You could make a couple of pitchers of flavored ice tea like mint or lavender and serve along with ice water. Make sure you have plenty of ice. When you think you’ve got enough, add one more bag. Use a cooler, a bucket or metal tub filled with ice to keep bottled beverages cold. You can also use small canning jars and pour in a variety of drinks, like lemonade, juices or  tea, to offer a variety of choices without a lot of fuss or mess. Just screw the lids on the jars and let your guests select their favorite drink. Have plenty of chilled water on hand, be it bottles or pitchers.

• Extras – have a clean-up station set up with a dishpan for dirty dishes and utensils, a large garbage can and some paper towels or wet wipes for messy fingers. If you make it easy for guests to clean up after themselves, they generally will. Offer your guests a parting gift that is summer-themed, like some lemonade mix or a little bag of salt-water taffy.

Go on, invite some friends over for a super-easy, super fun porch (or patio) party soon. You’ll be glad you made the time to connect!

She Who Loves Porches

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The other night, Captain Cavedweller and I went out for dinner. After placing our orders, I ran into the restroom to wash my hands only to find a little blond-haired pixie, who couldn’t have been more than 5, standing on her tiptoes splashing in the sink.

She eyed me when I came in and continued flailing water around the sink. Finally, she stretched up and turned off the faucet, pulled out a wad of paper towels and played at drying her hands.

Continuing to keep an eye on me she finally threw her towels in the garbage, put her tiny hands on her hips and gave me a once over.

“You got any bucks?” she asked.

Completely convinced I misheard her, I begged her pardon.

Apparently no one has ever done that before, because she looked at me in confusion.

“I’m sorry,” I said, leaning down  toward her. “I didn’t hear what you said.”

“You got any bucks? You know, money,” the little imp said.

“No, I don’t have any money,” I said, telling the truth since my purse was safely tucked away at the table with CC.

“Are you sure? You better check your pockets,” she said, taking a step forward.

Fearful she might decide to check my pockets for me, I showed her all they contained was some lint.

“Where’s your bucks?” she asked, growing concerned by the fact I didn’t even have a dime on me.

“Back at my table,” I said, wondering what type of parent turned this little robber baron loose in the restroom let alone hadn’t taught her any manners.

“Oh,” she said, then sashayed out the door.

With a sigh of relief that my interrogation had ended, I walked back to our table and informed CC that all the precocious child needed was a boy named Clyde and a get-away tricycle.

She Who Hasn’t Got Any Bucks in Her Pockets

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