Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Monarch Butterflies

Each Fall the Monarch butterflies snowbird from Canada and the Northern U.S. to the Southern U.S. and Mexico. On average the last ten years have seen a steady decline in the Monarch population and thus many conservation efforts have been implemented to sustain this beautiful influx of orange, black, and white.

One year during the first week of Spring our neighborhood planted milkweed seeds in anticipation of the annual migration of the Monarch Butterflies. And well, six months later... here it is!

Images courtesy of National Geographic

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Quimper Oyster Plate

My friend has this one of a kind and I absolutely love it:

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Cupcakes in a Cone

Pinterest wasn't around when I was growing up, yet somehow my mom always found a way to make things extra special. And of course birthdays were no exception - they were above and beyond.

I remember the special cupcake cones we brought to school one year. I felt so cool and unique and it was the great start to the school year with a September birthday.

Fast forward a few decades and here I am with a son with a summer birthday. And in the summer, especially in the south, it is hot. Everything melts, and you mostly want things that melt. So what do you do for a birthday of an ice cream cone loving boy without all of the mess of melted ice cream?


It's so simple. Here's what you do...

Buy a cake mix box and the corresponding ingredients. Preheat the oven to the recommended temperature and make the batter. Fill a cupcake tray with sugar cones and fill the cones with batter, about a 1/4 inch short of the top. Bake as recommended, and test with a toothpick (when the toothpick comes out dry, the batter is fully baked). Let cool and then generously frost the top and add sprinkles or whatever toppings you desire. Delicious!

And to make these even more spectacular, follow this amazing (super easy!) frosting recipe that is sure to please:

Homemade Frosting

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
Optional: Food coloring

Add all ingredients together in a bowl and beat on medium to high speed until the mixture forms soft peaks (5-10 minutes). That's it!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Clam Stuffies Recipe

Many moons ago my husband and I took a trip through Essex, CT and stopped for dinner at the Black Seal. Everything on the menu sounded amazing, including the house specialty, Baked Stuffed Clams. "You have to try them," I recall our waiter saying. And we really didn't need much convincing...

Although there was only one problem... once you try them, you need them. Cravings for Baked Stuffed Clams, also known as Clam Stuffies, hit hard and don't dissipate until satisfied. But the good news is - making them at home is actually quite easy!

6 large or 12 small clams, cleaned and rinsed
1/4 cup of butter (1/2 a stick)
3 Tbsp minced onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon (large wedge) squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp clam juice (store bought or from the cooking liquid)
1 tsp dried parsley
Optional: grated Parmesan cheese

1. Steam the clams in boiling water for 8-15 minutes (depending on size), until the shells pop open. Discard any shells that don't.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

3. Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the onion. Cook for about 8 minutes, until softened and slightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Remove from heat.

4. Remove the clams from their shells and mince the clam into small pieces. 

5. Clean, rinse and wipe the clam shells with paper towels. Place them on a cooking tray.

6. Add the lemon juice, clam juice, parsley and bread crumbs to the sauce pan and combine all of the ingredients together. 

7. Gently fold in the clam meat, and then stuff the stuffing into the clam shells using a spoon. *

8. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Let cool, and enjoy!

* Optional step to add some grated parmesan cheese inside the clam shells on top of the stuffing for some extra flavor boost.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Ocean at Seaside

It's almost summer time, which has me dreaming about the beautiful ocean of Seaside, FLA 30A.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Using a Tortilla Press

Homemade Tortillas are super fun and super easy!

To start, you'll need Corn Masa, which can be found at most grocery stores. Follow the recipe on the packaging, 2 cups Corn Masa and 1 1/2 cups of water.

Line a tortilla press with a long strip of plastic wrap, enough to cover both the top lid and the bottom lid of the press. This is so that the dough doesn't stick to the press.

Take a ball of dough in your palm (anywhere from a golf ball size to a tennis ball, depending on how big you want your tortilla) and place it in the press. *

Using the handle, bring the sides of the press together to flatten the dough. And voila!

Place a cast iron skillet over medium heat and cook the tortilla on both sides for about 5 minutes, until slightly browned.

Have fun, and let the kids participate! They really do like to eat what they help to make...

* This is the one tricky part - I've learned that it's best to place to ball closer to the inside of the press, since it will flatten out away from where the press comes together.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Arts & Craft Design at Grove Park Inn

"Boys, we're going into the mountains."

Nestled in the mountains, The Grove Park Inn was built in 1913 with only the use of mules, wagons, and ropes. Four-hundred men worked 10-hour shifts six days a week to finish the hotel in the promised one year timeline. And build it they did!

At the turn of the 20th century, the design world had been ready for a shift from the heavily ornamented Victorian style. The Industrial Revolution had allowed entrepreneurs to mass produce the popular Victorian style furniture and furnishings, dominating the interior of many households. As such interior designers were looking for a change, grieving the loss of a unique, one-of-a-kind craftsman style... So hello, "Arts and Crafts" movement!

Thus, back to the Grove Park Inn, the epitome of Arts and Crafts design. With its granite boulders, both inside and out, and its red clay tile roof, the Grove Park Inn is uniquely distinct in its wonder and glory (not to the mention the Blue Ridge mountain views). The interior features many Roycroft and other popular craftsman-like furnishings and fixtures.

The hotel was branded for its founder, a man that went by the name of E. W. Grove. Who was this man Grove? Well, in the late 1890’s Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic, the pharmacist's experimental drink dubbed to prevent malaria, was a common household item, selling more bottles than Coca-Cola. Grove's tonic may not have outlasted the times, but his hotel surely has, attracting well known names over the years, like F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Rockefellers, and a double digit list of past Presidents.

Visiting one of the historic hotels of America has not led us wrong to date, and The Grove Park Inn located in Asheville, N
orth Carolina is another amazing stay to add to the list.

*** Images courtesy of The Grove Park Inn ***

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Hot Baked Bread in the Comfort of your Home

Bloggers like to follow blogs. And sometimes another blog gets it so right that you just have to re-blog. Well, here I am again, posting a post on an awesome, amazing, and easy homemade bread recipe! Trust me ya'll, it's worth every last bite...

Take the same, simple recipe for pizza dough.

Form a ball, then lightly tuck under the sides. Use flour sparingly to prevent sticking.

Knife the top in your favorite decoration - slits and tic-tac-toe seem to be most commonly popular.

Preheat the oven to 475.

Cook for 30 minutes.

Beautiful!!! And delicious...

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Winter Pizza

The January 2018 edition of Southern Living Magazine had a great recipe for a winter pizza. It's a sausage and kale pesto pizza - simple, flavorful, and foolproof. And aside from the perfect ingredients, it is cooked in a cast-iron skillet, providing for the perfect wintry deep dish, crispy crust.

Pizza Dough (at room temperature)
8 oz. Italian sausage, casings removed
4 Tbsp. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped kale leaves
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 garlic cloves
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

2. Cook sausage in a skillet over medium heat, until browned. While cooking, break the sausage into small bite-sized pieces. Add the onions and sauté until tender and slightly browned. Remove from heat.

3. Make the kale pesto - in a food processor, combine the kale, basil, 2 Tbsp. of EVOO, garlic cloves, and Parmesan. Process until mostly smooth, or the desired consistency.

4. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. of EVOO and swirl to coat the pan. 

5. Stretch the dough and carefully place into the hot skillet, pressing on the bottom and sides. Cook over medium to high heat for about 2-3 minutes, until the dough wants to start to bubble.

6. Quickly spread the kale pesto evenly over the bottom of the crust. Top with mozzarella, sausage, and onions. Sprinkle the crushed red pepper over the toppings. Lastly, brush the edges of the crust with the remaining 1 Tbsp. of EVOO. 

7. Place the pizza in the oven until cooked (cheese melted, crust browned), about 12 - 15 minutes.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Gifts for All at Mark & Graham

For Him:

For Her:

For the Little One:

For the Furry Friend:

For the Home:

* All images courtesy of Mark and Graham *