Thursday, May 31, 2012

This 'n That Thursdays: Not-So-Annoying Orange


For anyone not familiar with the Annoying Orange, you are in for a rather dubious treat!  Check out the above YouTube video for an introduction to this funny but indubitably annoying fruit.  Then take a look at the images below for a much more agreeable orange experience:

From 1stdibs

From Planika

From HGTV

Grabber Orange Mustang from Meguiars Online

From Bonaldo

Chiyogami Modern from Susan Diana Harris Interior Design

Ballpark Condo from Susan Diana Harris Interior Design

From Matters of Style

Contemporary living room by Erinn Valencich 

From Matters of Style

Well, okay, I will admit that there may be a few folks out there who find one or more of these pictures not to their liking, but for those like me who find the color orange pleasing, these items and rooms showcase the color nicely, and are not annoying at all!  In fact, I could see having any one of them in my home right now.  Except for the Annoying Orange -- he can stay on YouTube, and soon, apparently, on the Cartoon Network!
            

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wish List Wednesdays: Sweet Cake Tub


Cupcakes are sweet, but even sweeter are these giant cupcake liners!  The Sweet Cake Tub comes in three colors (white, green, and yellow), is made of sturdy polyethylene, and is large enough to serve as an outdoor planter, a kiddie pool, a sandbox, or even a pet bed!




It is available for 149 euros (a little less than $190), which is a bit steep, and it may be rather hard to keep clean with all of those ridges, but I still love this tub as a planter, so if someone offered me a really good deal I would not say no to one (or more!).  I wonder if they would sweeten the deal even more with a giant cupcake like this one:

From eBay

If so, then I am definitely in!
  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On the Homefront: Our Very Own Dog-and-Donkey Show!


The two characters above are our sassy little miniature donkey and irascible little terrier mix.  They actually enjoy each other's company, despite the fact that donkeys are notorious for chasing and even attacking canids and are sometimes used to guard sheep and goats.  These two, however, have become playmates.  The terrier is almost always the instigator (the plump donkey would usually rather be eating!):


But once the donkey gets motivated, the fun begins (forgive the poor image quality, but I am not good at photographing moving targets!) :


The dog loves to be chased by the donkey, and the donkey is willing to oblige when in the mood.  Meanwhile, I get to stand by and enjoy the show!  However, all good things must eventually come to an end:


Our little terrier seems exhausted:


But our donkey looks like she's ready for more!


Sorry girl, but you will have to wait until next time.


Cheer up and don't look so glum -- your doggie pal will be back tomorrow, rested and ready to play again!
       

Monday, May 28, 2012

On the Homefront: Our Three-in-One Tree


We have a three-in-one tree growing in one of our horse pastures.  From this distance I know it does not look very interesting, but get close enough and you will see why I find it to be quite special!  The tree itself is a young pecan which just started producing last year, and promises to yield even more nuts this year:


But if you look closer, you will see a small mulberry tree growing intertwined with the pecan, lush with an abundance of berries:


And an even closer examination reveals a blackberry bush covered with flowers growing among the branches of the two trees:


These pictures were taken over a month ago -- the mulberries are gone and the blackberries are red in color right now.  They should be ripe in a few more weeks, and then the pecans will be on their way to maturity.  Our three-in-one tree is a three-season provider -- mulberries in the spring, blackberries in the summer, and pecans in the fall.  Now you know why I am so fascinated by this otherwise rather unremarkable little tree!
 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Foodie Fridays: Strawberry Crostata

From A Cozy Kitchen

Since May is National Strawberry Month, I thought I would dedicate the last Foodie Friday of the month to a sweet recipe featuring this delectable berry.  I can't remember where I found this recipe for Strawberry Crostata, but the preparation has been streamlined so that making this rustic tart seems almost effortless.  It would be an excellent dessert for Memorial Day, which is conveniently coming up in a few days.  But don't wait for a holiday to try this, especially now that strawberries are in season -- it is too good to wait for a special occasion!

Strawberry Crostata

2 C. flour
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. cold unsalted butter, diced
6 T. ice water
4 C. strawberries, sliced
1 T. flour
1 T. sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
dash of cinnamon

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Add the butter.  Pulse 12-15 times until the butter is the size of peas.  With the machine still running, stream in the water to combine, but turn off the machine just before the dough comes together into a ball.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

Roll the pastry dough out into an 11-inch circle.  Transfer to a sheet pan or a pie plate.  Combine the berries with all of the remaining ingredients and pour the mixture into the center of the pastry to within about 3 inches of the edge.  Gently fold the edges of the dough up and over the filling, leaving the center of the tart uncovered.  Bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes, depending on whether you like your crust soft or crisp.  Serves 8.
   

Thursday, May 24, 2012

This 'n That Thursdays: Pretty Things All in a Row

From Barbara Youngelson's Photoblog

Sometimes quite by accident I chance upon a series of images while searching the web that come together effortlessly in a most pleasing way.  A few weeks ago I found the photo above, and it seems that now I just can't stop finding images of colorful items all in a row!  Here are a few more that caught my eye:

From Mariquita Farm

From Steve Hankins Photography

From The Darling Starling

From small sight

While I may never do anything else with these pictures, just looking at them arranged together like this brightens my day and makes me smile, and that is always worth while!
     

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wish List Wednesdays: Birdcage Shower Curtain


I thought I would finish up the month with one more bird-themed item, and could not resist this Birdcage Shower Curtain from Urban Outfitters.  I like both the design and the colors, but best of all I like the fact that all of the cage doors are open and the little birdies are free to come and go as they please!  At $44, the price is not unreasonable, and teamed with all of the previous avian products I have mentioned on the other Wish List Wednesday posts this month, birds of a feather really could flock together most delightfully in my home!
     

Friday, May 18, 2012

Foodie Fridays: Cheddar Cheese Pudding for One

From The Home and Garden Cafe

Continuing on down memory lane, the third cookbook I acquired when I first started collecting them was The Single's First Menu Cookbook, which focused on recipes for the single person.  Some are for individual servings, and others serve more people depending on whether or not there will be guests.  The recipes are arranged in complete menu fashion, which saves one the bother of trying to decide on what to serve with the main dish!  I decided to post one of the individual serving recipes, Cheddar Cheese Pudding, since that is the theme of this book, and I am also including the menu provided (the other theme).  Even if you are not single, there are always going to be times when you will be dining solo, and these recipes are an alternative to the ubiquitous frozen dinners for one.  Give this dish a try the next time you are eating alone!

Cheddar Cheese Pudding

1/2 C. milk
2/3 C. soft bread cubes or crumbs
1/2 C. shredded Cheddar cheese
salt to taste
dash of cayenne pepper
1T. melted butter
1 egg yolk, well beaten
1 egg white, beaten stiff

Pour milk over bread and let stand at least 30 minutes.  Add all but the egg white and mix well.  Fold in the egg white.  Pour into a buttered individual baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees until puffed and browned (about 45 minutes).  Serves 1.

Menu Suggestion:

  • Cheddar Cheese Pudding
  • Buttered Carrots
  • Green Salad
  • Fresh Figs (I like them with a little sugar and light cream)
  • Coffee or Milk

Thursday, May 17, 2012

This 'n That Thursdays: Silver Lining Living Room


As is often the case, it all started with a rug.  I am a sucker for contemporary rugs featuring an animal theme, and the one above fits this description perfectly.  I love the colors as well -- fiery red-orange fish against a cool silvery-grey background.  I started searching for items that would complement this color scheme, and ended up with the following style board:

Clockwise from top left: Abstract painting from Chroma Zone; White Leather Chair from Alterior Design; "Falling" acrylic painting by Alana Hoffman on Etsy; David's Garden Char Rug in Grey Anjo from Robin Gray Design; Timber End Table from Z Gallerie; Hawthorn Table Lamp from RugsUSA (no longer available); Orange Red Poimulehti Pillow from hannasboutique on Etsy; Euro Style Sandor Coffee Table from CoffeeTablesGalore; Bolla Carbon Sofa from CB2.
             
I think I would paint the walls of this room white tinted with just a hint of grey, or perhaps even a subtle shade of green since the rug and one of the paintings have a bit of green in them -- this shade might work:


They say that every cloud has a silver lining, and it seems every living room can as well!
            

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wish List Wednesdays: Chickadee Plates and Platter


I thought I would continue my bird-brained theme this week, especially after I saw these Chickadee Plates and Platter from Crate and Barrel.  The salad plates come in four colors (yellow, red, orange, and green) and are $8.95 each, while the platter, with all four bird designs, is $29.95.  I would love to own the whole set!  Why not bring some cheer to your next dinner party by inviting these fine feathered friends?


Friday, May 11, 2012

Foodie Fridays: Chicken Fricassee with Dumplings

From Betty Crocker's Cookbook (1974)

This week I am posting a recipe from the very first cookbook I ever purchased, the 1974 hardcover edition of Betty Crocker's Cookbook.  Selecting a recipe from this book was easier in some ways than last week's choice because I used more recipes from this book, but it was also more difficult because I had to narrow it down to just one!  I finally decided on Chicken Fricassee with Dumplings as it was the very first dish I ever made for others.  I cooked this one for my sister on her birthday, since my mother made a similar version and it was my sister's favorite meal.  One of the gifts I received when I went off to college was an electric skillet, which was a very popular cooking appliance at the time, and this chicken fricassee was the first meal I ever cooked in mine.  It came out perfectly, and gave me the confidence to keep cooking.  I have always preferred baking to cooking, but thanks to Betty Crocker I became a better cook, and I will always be fond of this book!  This is an old-fashioned recipe, and one that few modern cooks seem to make now, but it is much better than the more recent version I found on the internet which calls for Bisquick and canned soup.  Please make the extra effort and try this recipe instead, as it is sure to be healthier as well as tastier than the newer recipe (just use oil or even butter instead of trans fat-filled shortening!).

Chicken Fricassee with Dumplings

4 1/2- to 5-pound stewing chicken, cut up
1 C. flour
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. paprika, if desired
shortening or salad oil
1 C. water
3 T. flour
Milk
Dumplings (below)

Wash chicken pieces and pat dry.  Mix 1 C. flour, salt, pepper, and paprika.  Coat chicken with flour mixture.  Heat thin layer of shortening or oil in large skillet; brown chicken on all sides.  Drain off fat and reserve.

To skillet, add water and, if desired, chopped onion, lemon juice, or herbs such as rosemary or thyme leaves.  Cover tightly; cook chicken slowly 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours until fork-tender, adding water if necessary.  Remove chicken to warm platter and keep warm.  Pour off and reserve liquid in skillet.

To make gravy, heat 3 T. reserved fat in skillet.  Blend in 3 T. flour.  Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbly.  Remove from heat.  Add enough milk to reserved liquid to make 3 cups; pour into skillet.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir one minute.  Return chicken to gravy.  Drop dumpling dough by spoonfuls onto hot chicken.  Cook uncovered 10 minutes; cover and cook 20 minutes longer.  Serves 6.

Note: To fricassee a broiler-fryer chicken, select a 3- to 4-pound bird and cook slowly 45 minutes until fork-tender.

Dumplings: Measure 1 1/2 C. flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt into a bowl.  Add 3 T. snipped chives, if desired.  Cut in 3 T. shortening (or butter) until mixture resembles meal.  Stir in 3/4 C. milk.
       

Thursday, May 10, 2012

This 'n That Thursdays: Doris Day Song Collections

From KCUR

I rarely buy music, but I do have a few favorite singers, so when I found out last month that Doris Day had two relatively recent CD collections out, I just had to order them!  The first is called My Heart, which was released last year and was produced by her son Terry Melcher just before his death.  The collection is a tribute to her son, and includes a solo by him ("Happy Endings"), a song performed by Day for her son ("My Buddy"), and a song selected and sung by Day because it was one of her son's favorites ("Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries").

Available from Amazon.com

The second collection, Doris Day: With a Smile and a Song, was produced by Sony Masterworks and Turner Classic Movies and curated by Doris Day herself.  Released last month in honor of her birthday, the two-disc set includes many of her most popular songs from her movies, such as "It's Magic" and "Que Sera, Sera".

Available from TCM Shop

I have just ordered these and have not yet received them, but when I do I am sure I will be listening to them over and over.  I may not be much of a music fan, but I know what I like, and Doris Day's songs are at the top of the list!
       

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wish List Wednesdays: Bird Sugar and Creamer Set


I seem to have birds on the brain lately when it comes to home goods -- this week I'm coveting a lovely Bird Sugar and Creamer Set by whitneysmith available on Etsy.  While not inexpensive at $86 for the set, these ceramics are generously proportioned and well made -- definitely worth the investment.  And check out the rest of her collection for these items in other colors, other items with the bird design, and other pieces with different designs.  They are all beautiful!
          

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weekend Wonders: Super Moon!

Photo by Shari Neluka Atukorala

Did you get to see the "super moon" last night?  I saw it early this morning while taking our dogs for their pre-dawn walk -- quite spectacular!  You would think the sight would have reminded me of this song, but instead the tune that came to mind was an old Glen Campbell hit called "Southern Nights".  This great video pairs his version with beautiful images of Georgia (surprisingly, though, there are no moon photos!):



Although at its peak last night, I am sure the moon will be almost as impressive tonight, just in case you missed it -- the sight really is worth the effort, so get out there and look!
        

Saturday, May 5, 2012

On the Homefront: A Profusion of Flowers!


It has been way too long since I have posted pictures of our yard in bloom, and it has been flowering profusely!  The beautiful iris above absolutely glows in the garden, and it was followed almost immediately by another beauty:


The stunning Japanese maple in the background with the lacy burgundy leaves is the perfect background for our irises:


I just wish I had never planted the pesky English ivy (Hedera helix) in pots -- of course I couldn't keep up with it and it escaped into the garden (be forewarned by my bad experience with this plant)!  It is considered a highly invasive noxious weed and I hope to eliminate it from my garden this winter when it is not actively spreading.

Blue flowers were well represented in the garden by my potted sage plant (top) and and two pots of catmint (bottom):

Sage (Salvia officinalis) flower spike

Catmint (Nepeta cataria) flower spikes

Our Carolina sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus), also known as Carolina allspice, had blossoms as well:


On the deck, two potted vines were flowering -- a very pale pink, almost white, shrub honeysuckle (top) and the colorful crossvine (bottom):

Potted shrub honeysuckle (Lonicera sp.)

Potted crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)

While I enjoy having honeysuckle in pots, and there is even a native species, Lonicera sempervirens, that I plan to add to our yard one of these days, the species known as Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is a very aggressive invasive vine in the United States.  It grows all through the woods around here, and has covered many portions of our fence:

Japanese honeysuckle covering our pasture fence!

And then there is this prolific white-flowered shrub:


Lovely though it may be, Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) is yet another extremely aggressive invasive plant species, especially here in Georgia.

White flowers seem to be dominating the garden scene right now in our yard.  The Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) growing up one side of our deck has created a veritable wall of flowers so sweetly fragrant they are almost overwhelming:


This vine is a very popular ornamental in our state, but to me it is very aggressive to the point of being invasive, and I am slightly allergic to the milky sap it releases when pruned back.  I much prefer Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) as a fast-growing flowering vine, although it is not fragrant.

The tiny white blossoms of heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) are just about ready to open:


My husband's favorite oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) is also flowering now:


Our magnolias have just started to bloom, and I wish everyone could inhale their lightly citrus-scented fragrance -- it is just marvelous!


Cascades of catkins can be seen on the young pecan trees in our pasture:


We even have some fruits coming along -- the blueberries (top) are almost ripe, and the figs (bottom) are progressing nicely:



I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- when it comes to gardens, Georgia in the spring is hard to beat!