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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Heavenly Vanilla Tea Cake

I am not fibbing when I say these are the most
delicious things ever!

They are soft and tender and so full of vanilla bean,
 they just melt in your mouth.
They are sweet but not too sweet making them
perfect for anytime.

I found a recipe and thought about it for a couple of
days so I could, you know, make some changes.
{I can never leave anything alone}

Well, I think I did good on this one.

I've made these two days in a row! 
Yesterday was trial day and today was gift day,
 with some to spare.

I have a couple of cake orders this weekend so when I
sanitize the kitchen, I may as well take advantage, right?

Vanilla Tea Cakes {scones}

2 cups all purpose flour 
1/4 cup of sugar
1 Tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon of salt
6 Tablespoons of butter, cubed and chilled
1 cup of heavy cream
2 vanilla beans, cut and scraped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees making sure rack is set in the middle.

Cover your baking sheet with parchment paper.

Measure your cream and set aside.
Cut and scrape your vanilla beans and add to cream. Using a fork, mix for a couple of minutes until well incorporated.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, using fork to blend well.
Add chilled butter and using a pastry blender, cut in until it looks like coarse meal.
Stir in cream mixture with a fork until a dough forms.
Turn out on a floured surface and work gently (less kneading equals tender pastry!) until it all holds together.
Form into a rectangle about 21 inches long and 3 inches wide. It should be 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick. 

Cut into wedges like this:

This made 18 scones but you can make more by stretching the rectangle a little longer and narrower to make them a little smaller, hence, more.

Place on cookie sheet, giving them a little bit of room between. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until tops are a light golden brown. Watch for those three minutes because you don't want the bottoms to brown too much.

Remove from oven and let cool while you make the glaze.

Vanilla Glaze

3 Tablespoons of butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, cut and scraped
2 drops of almond extract (trust me on this!)

Mix all ingredients until creamy and smooth with no lumps. Drizzle over cakes with a spoon or serve in small dipping dishes. **I use a squeeze bottle which makes it super easy. You can pick those up at Wal-Mart in the cake decorating section for 2/$2. 

If I ever have my B&B, these will definitely
be something on the regular menu.
They'll be dessert before breakfast, the perfect accompaniment to the first cuppa.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On The Coop Porch

I picked up a watermelon from a truck bed vendor
this weekend and was it ever delicious.
I think watermelon with seeds tend to be a
 bit sweeter than seedless. 
And more fun, especially if you're a boy.

I gave 'em each a slice and sent them outside.
They chose the coop porch to spit seeds.

They buried some so we may have random watermelon
vines growing around the yard.

This is my last week before I start my new job on Monday
so I need to get my garden planted!

Off to the grower!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Weeds, NO MORE!

Getting the garden beds all pretty and 
cleaned up so all those beautiful
blooms stand out and look their best.
Instead of wood chips, we use pine straw.
 We're still in awe that pine tree "leaves" are used for mulch.
I don't think I have ever seen it used 
before we came to the South.

As seen above, 
Pine straw does decompose over time 
so even though I lay it thick,
it does thin out in places and needs refreshing.

 Last year, I laid weed cloth down before I 
mulched but we still got
weeds popping through, probably in the tiniest
 of holes made in that stuff.

I came across an article in Mother Earth News  about using
newspaper as a weed barrier. The comments from fellow
gardeners were great! One person said they used in one of their beds and were weed free for two years.
It's "green", decomposes and saves it from the landfill.
Since our local paper only comes out once a week, it would 
take forever to collect enough to use. 
My impatience wanted to do it NOW so
I made a phone call to the editor of our town paper.

I swung by and picked up two good sized boxes of old papers,

I got to work! I pulled up any nasty viney weeds and tore the 
clover and smaller weeds to the ground then
covered the entire area with the newspaper, overlapping it good.

I did it really thick in areas that did not have any plants growing around,
then water as I went to keep it from blowing in the breeze.

Once I got that done, I fluffed the pine straw over it.

We ended up doing it the entire length of our picket fence
and I think it looks beautiful. 

We don't have a mow strip, although, 
I'd love to put brick down {maybe one day}. 
 I've had years of practice with the weed whacker though, so I can get any grass that gets too close, pretty good.

Voila! A clean shaped garden island!

I will keep tabs on the progress of decomposition and let you know how it goes.

Have any of you used newspaper in your garden?

And, I have a surprise!
 One of our Barred Rocks 
laid her first egg today.
I knew it was coming and boy, did she 
let the world know!

Now for the rest of them... :)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Black Beauty

If you know me, you know I have a major soft spot
for the color black. I love using it as an accent in our home
and I love to wear it. I love refinishing furniture with it then giving it an aged look.

In small doses, black can be a show stopper and a focal point. The eye is
always drawn to a luxurious dark color and if the lines are right, it can seduce you.

I love that it's classy color but it can also be rebellious. 
Maybe that's why I like it so much.

Black. Black. Black.

 So I finally, finally designed business/calling cards.
You're probably thinking, "What does this have to do with black?!"

There's been a loooong back and forth debate on whether or not
I needed to change my {cell} number to a local area code.
This prompted the delay because opinions are like, well... you know,
so I had a meeting with myself and decided to keep it.
Besides, it's only a number.

My business cards are just like this except with my name and phone number on them.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Green Dreams

 As a young girl, I always dreamed of living someplace 
 where three-rail white fences popped against green pastures and horses grazed all day. There would be a few huge oak trees in those pastures, where I'd lay in the shade, and just
watch my horse for hours on end. 

I was probably dreaming about Kentucky since I was so 
infatuated with horses and I'm pretty sure every book I read that involved them, was set somewhere in the Blue Grass State.

Well, we aren't in Kentucky but we're close enough!
We surely landed in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. And it truly feels like my dreams came true.

We had rain off and on yesterday and when we got a break,
I had to get out and take some pictures of our front walkway.

This spring has been amazing. I have never seen so many shades of natural green in my life.

I love how the blooms just pop against that luscious green. 

We repainted our outdoor furniture in black and it all just looks so pretty.

Our California wine barrels just love it here. Moisture keeps them tight. Back home, I had to water them so they wouldn't dry out and fall apart.

I am so, so happy to see my Cecil Brunners sprout up!
I know they won't cover the pergola this year but 
I think they might climb up quite a bit. 
I swear they get taller by the day.

There is no greater satisfaction for a gardener than seeing your garden bloom. 
And to think, this is just the beginning of spring. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Quick Cheesecake Trifle Parfaits

I love cheesecake!
I could eat a Costco cheesecake, morning, 
noon and night because
with cheesecake, you can dress it up so many different ways.

I wanted to make something light and fruity so
I decided on Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle Parfaits.
These came together rather quick and 
easy and looked very pretty.

I made these for our Easter dessert and 
I had to share because if you are short on time, 
these are perfect. You can make them in advance 
(up to a day) 
and pull them out of the fridge, garnish and serve. 

My family loved them.

Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle Parfaits

Serving size: 8 generous portions

2 boxes of instant cheesecake jello pudding (3.4 oz boxes)
4 cups milk
1 family size Sarah Lee pound cake (16 oz)
2 containers of strawberries
juice of one lemon
1 cup of sugar

Whipped cream
chocolate curls

1. Wash and trim strawberries. Dice into small, bite sized pieces. 
 Place in medium size bowl and sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice. 
 Stir gently and set aside.

2. Cube pound cake into 1/2 inch squares and set aside.

3. In mixer, empty pudding boxes and add milk. Mix on low until incorporated and switch to    medium. Whip for 5 minutes.

4. In goblets, layer pound cake, pudding, strawberries, pound cake, pudding, strawberries. Refrigerate  at least one hour.

5. When ready to serve, top with whipped cream and chocolate curls.

I know this isn't totally by scratch but it is a quick and easy dessert that is really pretty to look at and tastes very good without being too heavy. I think this would be a great summer dessert, as well.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Red Wall

Hmm... so about that red wall.
Remember the one? The dining room? 
Yeah, that one.

Yep, I decided after all this time, I do not like it.
I tried to like it but I just feel the color is just too heavy for 
our home and although I love red, it's just not working.
I hit the Mister with my thoughts and surprisingly, 
he agreed. 

Don't ask what color we're going with 
because I am absolutely clueless.

I'll keep you posted. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Claw-foot For The Master

And yet another stroke of luck!
There are so many treasures to be had 
at Habitat For Humanity ReStore.
You just have to have the time to browse and 
revisit again and again because there
are always new things coming in.

This latest trip was a score!
We found a cute little chandelier for Sissy's room,
the boys found lots of trinkets and treasures to fill their pockets 
{note to self: check the pockets before laundering!}
and Momma got a new {old} claw-foot tub for our master bath remodel.

Yes, she's a little rough but I know we will bring her back to the 
beauty she once was. 
I wasn't sure I wanted to include a tub in our remodel, 
mainly because new tubs are a fortune, but I'm sure now!
For the price on this one, it will definitely have a place and be
worth every bead of sweat and sore muscle. My studious husband
has already found the hardware through a great site at the fraction of
the cost of most places specializing in claw-foot tub hardware.

Now to decide on how to finish the outside.

Since we haven't decided on the style
of our bathroom yet, I've been pinning inspiration
photos just to get some kind of idea of possibilities.

All inspiration photos were taken from pinterest.

We've got white on white. {LOVE this bathroom, by the way!}




Black feet.


And another white but with silver feet.

So, which is your favorite?
Oh, the decision!

I just cannot wait to have a soak!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Just When You Think...

Thank you all so much for the well wishes
over the past couple of weeks!
My body is healing nicely and I
am feeling better than I have in a long time.

via pinterest
I knew that my recovery time was going to 
be spent designing business
essentials and ordering all of my paper goods. 
All things that did not require lifting anything
but my fingers to the keyboard.
That was the plan.

The week before surgery, I went
into one, of our two, small town banks
to close an account. I had procrastinated
on this for a looong time {just ask my husband}.
I finally "found" the time to do it. Begrudgingly.

Something about procrastination and timing
because I left the bank with more than
I had gone in with and I'm not talking
about the money I got from closing the account.

They offered me a position.

A new job.
A job.

Talk about spinning.

They offered, I accepted, I interviewed, they accepted,
they offered, I accepted.

via pinterest

I start in a couple of weeks.

I had no idea what would transpire that day
but it started with this: I started singing a Keith Urban song
and turned on the radio. Keith Urban was on. Same song AND the same exact words I was singing. Serious!

I trust in God's plan and what he has planned.

So, no FPH Bakery.
Should things change, at least I have that and
my skilled hands to fall back on.
Weekend baking? Mmmm, maybe but probably not.

I think my new position will re-light my creative fire though.
Something I've missed for a while, now.
Instead of it being work it will be pleasure, 
something to unwind with. 
The funny thing is, I've been pulling things out of my 
packed boxes and have actually wanted to do something with them.

Maybe taking a break from the house will give me fresh eyes
every weekend to appreciate what we've accomplished and spur me/us to finish where we've left off.
Regardless, I am so ecstatic!
I feel like I've won something {because I'm one of those
that never does, regardless of how many tickets I buy
to guarantee my win}.

I don't know where that leaves my blog.
I surely do not want to blog about banking but
maybe our weekend renovations will give me material to share with you all. This is, after all, supposed to be a home
renovation blog with some recipes and tips thrown in.

So, I am going to savor my last couple of weeks at home, get some simple projects finished, share some of those things with you and prepare for my re-entry to the corporate world.

Wow, a new career. Who knew? 

Wishing you a Happy Easter. 
We all have lots to be thankful for, especially me.