Saturday, September 5, 2015

Lavender Ice

As summer comes to a close it's fun to capture some of the last of the seasons signature flavors in your favorite recipes before Fall's inevitable arrival. Lavender, usually in bloom from June through August has a lovely fragrance and unique taste that can instantly bring to mind fleeting warm days and sunny fragrant fields.
Photos Cpaul, outdoor images taken at Carousel lavender farm
Recently on a summer drive I was delighted to visit Carousel Lavender farm in my native Bucks County. Though I was a little late in the season, the farm didn't disappoint with lovely grounds and a charming shop where I bought the culinary lavender for this recipe
Lavender Sorbet
I've made several recipes with lavender but have never tried a sorbet. An online search found a myriad of recipes most including a similar simple ingredient list starting with sugar, water and culinary lavender. I chose a recipe from the lovely blog Mystical Me and simply added a dash of honey to enhance the flavors 
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 tbsp culinary lavender (pesticide free)
1 tbsp honey
2 1/2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs vodka 
Dissolve water and sugar in medium saucepan
Add lavender and honey and bring to boil
Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes
Remove from heat and cover, letting steep for 10 minutes
pour into a bowl through strainer removing any lavender
stir in lemon and vodka
cover and freeze, check during freezing mashing to break up any icy chunks with fork
Once frozen can be popped in blender for smoother texture if desired
Serve in stemware for a simple but elegant presentation 
Sugar dusted sweets and a french fizzy drink are perfect accompaniments

For more lavender ideas visit our post: lavender-sweet-lavender

Wishing everyone a Happy End of Summer

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Summer Sweet: Watermelon Meringues

Few fruits epitomize summer more than fresh juicy watermelon. While nothing beats this favorite farmstead staple, why not celebrate this cheerful melon by whipping up a colorful whimsical meringue version as a fun sweet treat. Meringues are one of my go-to treats (I feature them often) as they are relatively easy to make (even for the culinarily challenged like myself) and can be adapted to so many fun flavors.

Unable to find watermelon extract, I found Kool-aid watermelon flavored liquid mix for this recipe
(I know my gourmand foodie friends will balk but it adds a nice flavor!)
Preheat oven to 225
You'll make two batches in separate bowls
Beat egg whites until frothy
Sprinkle with cream of tartar and salt and beat until soft peaks form
Slowly pour in sugar, flavor and add desired amount of coloring until stiff peaks form
Put green mixture in pastry bag and pipe in circles on parchment lined tray
Spoon pink mixture in center of and sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles for seeds
Bake 90 minutes or until outside of meringues have a hard outer shell when tapped
Turn off oven but let meringues sit inside with door ajar for 30 minutes
 Once cool, carefully remove from parchment 

serve with tea or lemonade and fresh watermelon

For more sweet treats featuring this basic meringue recipe try our: 

Friday, July 24, 2015

our giveaway winner is......

Many Thanks to our Delightful Readers
for Attending our
 Mad Tea Party
and for
Entering our Giveaway
As we mentioned, sadly lacking technical skills to install a raffle gadget,
 I enlisted the help of one of our rescue pets to select the winner.
After some confusion and trudging across (and chewing) our lists of entries, Angel chose (or the paw rested on)
The Tragic Queen!
 Thanks for entering!
we will be contacting the winner via email for shipping information

Friday, July 10, 2015

Happy Birthday Alice in Wonderland: A Mad Tea Blog Party

It's hard to believe that it's been 150 years since Alice first stumbled down that famous rabbit hole, and a century and a half later her antics are still enchanting us all. What better way to celebrate this auspicious "un" unbirthday than by joining a delightful group of fellow bloggers for 
Mad Tea Party! 
Of course tea, cake, hats and animal friends are a must and with some easy DIY's, household props and sunny weather it's fun to turn your yard or porch into a fete worthy of the hatter himself.

Books, cards and clocks give a nod to the classic story
 cookies and colorful sweets round out the menu
no need for formality, mismatched tea cups add to the "madness"
a dapper March Hare shows up on time
A DIY Flamingo croquet set from last years party are at the ready for a quick match
instructions here: a-mad-tea-party
More tea cups suspended from tinsel string hold flameless votives 
should guests linger into the evening  
and the sun goes down

Down the Rabbit Hole Birthday Cake
Celebrate Alice's famous tumble with an easy but fun dessert that won't require  advanced baking skills or degree in the Culinary arts. I embraced the trend of "naked" cakes and skipped the full traditional frosting, instead using some fun accents and fresh berries.
You'll Need
the cake
A chocolate bundt cake (store bought or handmade)
 Store-bought Tube, or pastry bag of icing for adhering decorations
Berries and mint 
Dollar store or inexpensive doll of appropriate size
At the risk of sounding creepy I had to gently remove the legs to fit cake
 Luckily she came with a blue dress but I painted her pink shoes black, painted some white socks and glued lace to hem for more Alice-ness
Toad stools
I created toad stools with red velvet cookies divided in two atop marshmallows (a dollop of icing acts as glue) with white gel icing dots 
or try my Marshmallows Mushrooms from my woodland-tea 
Cake Banner
I found vintage images from the story on charming emilysimagegarden and added the text 
"we're all mad here!" 
Then glued to ribbon attached to skewers and inserted in cake

"Unbirthday" Hats
While the mad hatter sported an elegant silk topper for an un unbirthday, these classic festive paper versions are fun DIY alternatives.
Printables, trim and craft scraps add some wonderland flare to basic party hats and no need for perfection, for a mad party anything goes.
Images from one of my favorite go-to sources

UnBirthday Giveaway
Whats a birthday without a gift?
 This year I will be giving away an Alice themed mixed media shadow box painting from my shop Le Beau ChatonThe painting was hand done in assorted paints and accented with embellishments and measures about 6 x 6 x 1 1/2"
To enter, please leave a comment and, if necessary, a way to contact you, and let us know you'd like to participate in the giveaway by July 19th. 
The winner will be announced the following week and can send their shipping information via the "contact us" button.
disclaimer: Not techy enough to install a raffle app or gadget, I will very unscientifically have one of our cats randomly select the winner from a printed list of entries- whoever the paw points to first will be our winner. The Dormouse will be on hand as a witness

Many Thanks to Vanessa of A Fanciful Twist 
for hosting her delightful parties!
For a link and list of the wonderful bloggers participating in this 8th annual celebration please click HERE.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fourth of July DIY: five minute fireworks

I admit I had absolutely no idea that we owe the fabulous fireworks we enjoy every Fourth of July to a kitchen mishap nearly 2,000 years ago. Many claim the invention of fireworks dates back to the Song dynasty in China when a field cook accidentally spilled saltpeter into his fire and, when combined with the sulfur and charcoal there- kaboom -a colorful flame! 
This year while most of us will trek, blanket and snacks in hand to the nearest public fireworks display to ooh and ahh, why not also add some spark to your own backyard with this scaled down, and far less dangerous, glow stick decor.

Hanging Firework Bursts
You'll Need
small pieces of foam- used for flower arranging 
(Dollar store has the best buy on these)
black spray paint
assorted color and sized glow sticks
(I got a few packs) 
sparkly ribbon, tinsel or clear fishing line
I first sprayed the foam lightly with black paint - sometimes this causes certain types of foam to shrivel a bit so test a small area first- and let dry
Poke hole through center of foam (I used a chopstick for easy threading) and run tinsel ribbon or line through, securing with knot
 Insert glow sticks firmly placing evenly around foam for balance.
I accidentally cracked some of the sticks while inserting, setting them glowing, so for maximum light time you can insert sticks just before displaying
Hang and drape with tinsel if desired

Faux Fireworks Lantern
A lantern gets a some faux firework flare with a festive balloon weight adorned with glow sticks 
set on a craft moss ground for an outdoorsy feel
By Day
By Night

For more ideas visit our previous July fourth posts
Wishing our US readers 
a safe and
Happy Fourth!
and our overseas friends
Happy Summer!
and for cats too make sure to close those Kitty doors!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Tabletop Golf Garden

Fun, Space saving and easy to care for, Miniature, or tabletop gardens have taken the horticultural world by storm. 
While usually geared toward more traditionally feminine styling (teapots, flower fairies and gazebos) they can also be designed with more masculine appeal. 
A quick online search found dozens of fun versions perfect for his office, study or book shelf. Simply pick a theme, some easy care plants and accessories. Makes a unique gift for Father's Day or any day.

You'll Need
container of suitable size with drainage
soil appropriate for plants
small scale plant or plants
clean sand
sheet moss
small accessories to suit your theme
(I found cute golf accessories designed 
for cake decorating)
rocks, pebbles, other greenery
I started by planting the mini palm in one corner to allow room for accessories
I created a small well in the soil and filled with sand 
I then covered soil with sheet moss and arranged accessories
I created my own flag with craft paper and a bamboo skewer as I wanted a taller size than one provided
You can print a logo from a favorite course and attach to front of 
container as a fun personal touch

and its tee Time

These gardens can be customized to the recipients interests
golf, cars, boating, fishing?
I found these fun images on pinterest
Clockwise from Top left

So delighted to have my garden featured on the delightful