Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Berry Easy Meringues


As much as I enjoy indulging in sweet treats, I sadly have limited talent for creating them. Many an attempt at cookies, candy and macarons have resulted in disappointment and a sugary mess. However, over the years I have always been able to count on the surprisingly simple meringue! Featured in multiple incarnations on this blog- (New year's Pink Champagne, an Irish berry pavlova), it's an elegant, inexpensive, and adaptable treat.
   
In honor of upcoming berry season, I thought I'd whip up a quick raspberry flavored version as a light dessert, but you can easily change the flavor extract to suit your taste. Though they do tie up the oven for a little while, the actual prep time takes only minutes and I find I usually have all the ingredients on hand.

You'll Need
2 egg whites
1/2 cup superfine sugar 
(can be reduced if you find the meringues too sweet)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon rasberry (or other) extract
drop of pink food color  if desired
Preheat oven to 225 degrees
Beat egg whites on high until foamy,
Sprinkle with salt and cream of tartar
Beat until soft peaks form
slowly add sugar, extract and coloring and beat until stiff peaks form
I used an ice cream scoop to spoon even "blobs" onto a cookie tray lined with parchment
(for more formal versions the batter can be piped in neat circles or swirls as our champagne meringues)
   
Bake 90 minutes making sure outside "shell" is hard when tapped
Then turn off oven and let sit with door ajar for 30 minutes. 
Remove and cool completely
I perched mine on a pedestal and garnished with mint, strawberries and blackberries
ironically my raspberries had disappeared
 (I blame the refrigerator elves)
or add a label and pop carefully into mason jars for portable picnic fare or little gift
Label using images from the Graphics Fairy

A snipped leftover pink paper Valentines doily
 on the lid and sprig of faux floral adds flair
Their light airy texture make meringues the perfect accompaniment 
to afternoon tea. A lemon herbal tea complements the berry flavor.
    "Some of the sweetest berries
grow among the sharpest thorns"
     Gaelic Proverb

Wishing everyone a Sweet Summer Season! 



Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mother's Day afternoon tea kit


While they say good times spent with loved ones is the best gift of all, I know many busy mothers and grandmothers who would relish a relaxing afternoon just to themselves. While no one can make time stand still, you can provide them with some thoughtful trappings for a restful and restorative tea time.

This kit can be easily put together and tailored to your recipients tastes.
Just a few ideas 
A Pretty decorative Box
New or vintage tea cup
Selection of individual teas or container of a favorite
Silver (or silver tone) spoon
Pretty napkin or two 
Boxed Cookies, savories or sweets 
Local honey
packaged sugar cubes
A favorite photo
Stationary and a pen
A book, magazine or journal
Cd of favorite music
silk flowers or real if delivering in person

I bought this sturdy cardboard storage box in the decor section of my local craft store. They can be found in a variety of lovely patterns and designs
 A pretty bow secures individual tea bags and a vintage spoon 
 an assortment of tea treats and little luxuries
I created this simple label with image from the Graphics Fairy

 secure with ribbon and a silk flower

This box flips open and can be used as an impromptu writing desk
    A gift Card to tea room for a future afternoon tea with friends or relatives is a fun addition 


Wishing Mothers, Grandmothers, Godmothers and 
"just like Mothers" Much Happiness on their Day!

We're delighted to have our Mothers Day Flower Pot Pens
featured on Joanns Crafts
This is a fun project to make with kids



Friday, May 1, 2015

And they're off: Kentucky Derby DIY

While the actual derby race itself might last only a fleeting two minutes, this time honored event (the first Derby was held in 1875) is celebrated by fans for weeks both before and after, with fabulous events, parties, trays of mint juleps, and of course the ubiquitous glamorous hats. Sadly unable to attend the race in person (it's on my bucket list), I thought I'd pay homage to this festive event with some fun Derby inspired DIY's here at home.
   

Mint Julep Granita
While I found countless interpretations of the classic julep online, as well as many unique recipes featuring this fun flavor (mint julep cupcakes anyone?) I thought I'd try this refreshing version of an icy granita from 

 The recipe uses fresh mint, sugar, limeade, lime juice and bourbon 

Blame it on being a northern girl, but even to this date I don't own a proper set of silver mint julep cups (although I've been scouring flea markets for them) so I served my juleps up in some dollar store champagne flutes. 
Simply moisten the glass rims with cut side of lime and dip in a saucer of sugar. Garnish with mint and serve with long ice tea spoons.
   
Derby Hats
A proper topper is de rigeur for a derby fete and this is one place where fashion can really go over the top. 
A glue gun and craft staples from your dollar or party store make extreme millinery lots of fun. 
My mother created this "run for the roses" chapeau featuring a plastic thoroughbred, faux betting money and flower accents.
     
Derby Decor 
Dollar store items before their makeovers
Painted plastic horses add to your table when spritzed with gold and festooned with ribbons and flower. I hot glued the horses to a thin cardboard tube (cut in two) from a dry clean hanger painted gold, but a dowel would work as well.

Press horses and some faux roses into flower foam and perch in silver spray painted plastic pots 
A spritz of clear satin varnish give faux flowers a more lifle-like look


I bought a few feet of faux grass at my home improvement store and have used it so many times! (as a track for my easter bunny races or table runner for secret garden tea and other parties) Here I cut out a round to line my tray of julep granitas. 

And they're off.....

Love all things equestrian? Visit our Polo Picnic post for more horsey ideas.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The First of May: Cupcake May Baskets


 Since ancient times, cultures and religions around the globe have welcomed the arrival of Spring with gleeful and sometimes raucous celebrations of all kinds. Garlands of flowers, music, dancing, and often a May Pole played a key part in ushering in warmer weather as new plants and animals sprang to life. After an especially grueling and seemingly endless winter this year (and having not relocated to the tropics as was seriously considered) I decided some celebration of Spring, however small, was a must.
Though the tradition of delivering tiny surprise baskets of flowers and treats to family and neighbors has waned in recent times, I thought I'd pay homage to this most charming idea with a sweet whimsical and edible cupcake version to enjoy with friends at home.

May Day Basket Cupcakes
These can be made with any favorite flavor of homemade or store bought cupcakes and icing.
You'll Need
Wafer cookies 
Favorite flavor Cupcakes 
Icing  
Berries
Mint
Licorice (trimmed to size)
Trim overhanging cake from cupcake top to make sides level
Ice sides and carefully adhere wafer cookies around cakes
(These can be trimmed to size with a serrated knife if needed)
Decorate Tops with icing
Cut licorice to size and insert as handle
(shorter pieces stand up straighter) 
add berries and mint
Display on a platter. 
A chalkboard sign marks the day and pretty tea cups continue the flower theme
Serve for a Spring tea
Please note: these may need to be disassembled to eat and are best enjoyed on a plate with a fork

Mini Maypole
A mini May Pole is easily fashioned from a chopstick, pastel ribbons, hot glue and flower topper. Simply pop into some Spring grass
or into a leftover Easter centerpiece

For a larger party or basket on a larger scale you can adapt this summer berry version from our
Simply add flowers and Spring hued ribbons
&
For More May Day Ideas
Including a May Day Fairy Garden
Syllabub dessert and Flower cones
visit our previous post

Thanks for Visiting!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hopping Down the Bunny Trail : Off to the races

While we all know of a certain fabled rabbit who famously lost his race against his rival the tortoise, we thought this holiday we'd give bunnies their due and host a race all their own. 
With a fleet of wind-ups at the ready (on sale for 88 cents), you can cheer on your favorite furry friend as they cross the finish line. If tiny tikes will be part of your spring festivities this easy DIY activity makes a fun addition to the ubiquitous egg hunts and sugar binges. For adults, add springtime cocktails and friendly wagers.

I used
Wind-up Bunnies 
(my dollar store and supermarket had lots of these)
Printable with names and finish line banner copied to desired size
skinny ribbon
tiny party favor trophies 
Egg topped floral picks or wooden skewers 
Flower foam ring (cut in two- a serrated bread knife works well)
a stretch of faux grass (by the foot at home improvement stores)
or green paper or felt taped together
Faux flowers, eggs or other spring accents
 Bunnies are easily identified when sporting their names
Simply cut out name icons and tape to strip of ribbon. Wrap around bunnies'  tummies and tape to fit securely on other side. 
The paper names can be trimmed to size to make sure they don't interfere with the winding mechanism or bunnies' movement.
Attach paper Finish Line banner to ribbon and tie or tape to wooden skewers or floral picks.Decorate foam with flowers.
Roll out faux grass or roll of green paper and set up finish line
Set Bunnies at the starting gate 
And Hoppy wins by a tail
   
 The closing ceremonies
 Mini jelly bean filled trophies for the champs


Please note, with aims of their own these little ones can hop off track, make a simple rule that when they run out steam they can be rewound and gently redirected.

Wind up bunnies: center: tin bunny from Liveauctioneer.com left and right Bunny with rider and carriage, both German c1910, ebay 
Before iPads and x boxes these were the tech toys of the day

Not just for Easter: for other times of the year or for those who don't celebrate the holiday, simply change the decor and wind up characters to suit your theme. This would be fun for a child's barnyard themed birthday as well.

A Happy Easter
and
Delightful Spring!