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.