Monday, September 29, 2014

gingham love

There are some things in life that you never seem to tire of. In decorating, I love bits of gingham here and there. It is such a classic, I've even read a blogger call it a "neutral"!
It always seems fresh and sweetly natural, and is lovely all seasons of the year. 
I have several gingham items up in my shop. For some reason, hearts and gingham really go together well!
Recently one of my customers requested an order of a dozen hearts for her Christmas tree. She was so thrilled with them so much she contacted me again and ordered another dozen, which I promptly made and sent off to their new home across the ocean!
Gingham can make an ornate gilded frame look sweetly down-to-earth.
Gingham looks really cute with floral fabrics and splashes of happy colors.
It's lovely in the summer with pots of geraniums and basil.
But it also creates a perfect festive harmony with winter pine cones, sprigs of evergreens, and pretty candles.
Somehow it's playful and yet grown-up at the same time.
Are you as drawn to this fabric as I am? You can find my gingham crafts for sale here!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

natural decorating

I love adding natural details around the house and there is no season like autumn for finding many lovely treasures to display! Even if you don't have a garden, you can purchase natural decor at the garden center or find it in the forest (and bring it back where you found it when you tire of it!). What better place than nature for finding a gorgeous mix of colors, shapes, and textures.
Spring and summer flowers fade quickly in a vase but pine-cones, nuts and gourds last a long time.
To decorate my candle I layered walnuts, gourds, pine cones, chestnuts, red vines, and rose petals, most of the items I found in our garden.  Dried flowers and petals seem depressing in summer but in the fall and winter they are nostalgic and romantic.
I am not good at passing by a shiny chestnut on the side of the path without wanting to touch it and bring it home. A purse is for lipstick and money and keys I know  - but I have to admit you may find a chestnut or two in mine on a fall day!
Has fall officially begun now? Happy new season to you! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

autumn glow (and a smoothie recipe)

Right now I am noticing so much yellow and orange around me. These are not my favorite colors and in fact I find these warm shades can be a bit pushy and aggressive sometimes - a clear case of less is more in my opinion. But there are times when that golden amber glow and bold energy burst of orange are just what I need....particularly now that summer break is over and everyone's work/school schedules have resumed. Days seem to just fly by and my to-do (wish)list is crazy and probably unattainable. Not to mention that the alarm clock always seems to ring an hour too soon!
Eventually, after crossing off a thing or thing from my list (completed, hooray!) I'm out in the garden, thinking it would be fun to sketch with my watercolors but grateful for the speed of my camera lens to give me a chance to capture and express the beauty I see before me...fleeting, fleeting.
At the supermarket this week the summer fruits looked so ripe and healthy, so I grabbed a pineapple and melon and came up with another after-school smoothie snack. (My son was begging for smoothies again!)
This blend consisted of:
carrot juice
fresh pineapple chunks
cantaloupe melon
apple sauce (I had some left over from these cookies)
ice-cubes or water

Very yummy!
Pumpkins and sunflowers and vitamin C...yes, this is the start of autumn glow.
I'm enjoying this energy burst!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Oatmeal cookies with dark chocolate and cherries

 Chocolate and cherries baked into a delicious cookie, who can resist!
This summer we experimented with drying cherries from the tree in our back yard and they turned out just delicious and chewy, like big raisins.
I wrote a lot about our cherries here and here.
We imagined the dried cherries would be perfect for fall and winter cookies so on Saturday morning my daughter and I whipped up a batch of chewy, chocolately and healthy oatmeal cookies. I have adapted this recipe from this beautiful blog.

I love baking with my daughter and as she is nearly 18 and time is flying, I am savoring and treasuring every moment she wants to spend with me. We have become a seasoned pair in the kitchen, often knowing exactly what the other one needs and without words passing the vanilla or a wooden spoon and laughing about this and that. 
Anyway, back to the baking....these cookies are super easy to make, not overly sweet but have a wonderful texture and they disappeared very quickly.
Oatmeal cookies with dark chocolate and cherries


2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted margarine
3/4 cup unsweetened dried cherries
3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate

Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Place the wet ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix. Fold in the cherries and the chocolate chunks and stir with a spoon until a uniform dough forms.
Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes or longer. Using a tablespoon, pick up bits of dough and roll into a ball with your hands, then set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten the balls gently with your hand.
Bake in oven at 350° F (177°C) for about 12-15 minutes until light golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
I could not even take a photo without a little boy's hand grabbing a cookie, not staged, honest!
Enjoy a cookie or two on pretty flower napkin with a cup of cinnamon tea....happy baking!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

living in the trees

All things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man...the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.
- Chief Seattle

We have always wanted to live in a log house. We love the natural, warm, rustic look, feel, and smell of the wood, the fact that the house is so "alive". So this summer we took a little vacation in a wonderful Canadian style log cabin. We did not even have to travel far and one of the nicest things about our get-away was the short driving time.
I loved waking up every morning to these big windows with a view of tree tops and the sound of a rushing brook below our house.  I often woke up early and took a cup of coffee and a blanket to the patio to soak in the quiet morning mood.
“Listen to the trees talking in their sleep,' she whispered, as he lifted her to the ground. 'What nice dreams they must have!”
-L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
It was just a short but beautiful walk into the town from our house to get fresh rolls for breakfast.
The weather did not cooperate with our plans to spend most of our time outdoors. Luckily, there was a cozy fireplace which we were very grateful for after one rainstorm that completely drenched us. In sunny spells between deluges we were able to take short hikes and bike trips. The forest in this area is a national park and is very lush and beautiful.

Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.
-Khalil Gibran
Regardless of the weather, we took advantage of every moment of sunshine and made the best of it. I loved living in a tree house and exploring trails and towns in the area.
Rainy moments were well spent with some online art classes from the wonderful Alisa Burke -  full of great prompts to get you creative....
I doodled and painted away in my sketchbook, inspired by all the flowers and mushrooms and trees we saw during our hikes, but instead of making "real" nature studies I just used my imagination for whimsical, colorful little drawings...trying to be spontaneous and not really think about anything, really....
The boys did not mind the rain so much as it kept them free of long arduous hikes with their parents and they could snuggle up in their cozy beds and be entertained with their little gadgets!
Vacation is about relaxing!
 Oh, it would be nice to live among the trees like this every day! 

 “We have nothing to fear and a great deal to learn from trees, that vigorours and pacific tribe which without stint produces strengthening essences for us, soothing balms, and in whose gracious company we spend so many cool, silent, and intimate hours.” -Marcel Proust