Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Last Class For Our Pastry Chef Student

On Wednesday I attended a very special event, a Capstone. For the Pastry Chef students, it is the culmination of many months of classes, and hours of preparation to create their individual creations. Each one was on display, and each one is totally edible. I am sharing pictures of her project and some of her friend's projects.

This stained glass looking creation is made with different colors of spun sugar, which actually resembled an old glass stained window. The candle behind it, illuminated it beautifully. Fortunately for me, it now graces a corner of my kitchen.

This is one of the many desserts, created by the students, and served to each of the parents. This was a perfect, refreshing summer dessert.

Our daughter will be leaving for a 3 month externship, where she will spend time helping other pastry chefs, create desserts in a very nice restaurant in the Midwest. I will be taking a short blogging break. When I return I look forward to getting my blog back to normal. I will truly miss each of you.

Under Construction

Please excuse is under construction due to my dear sister-in-law and me trying to make some photo changes. As you can see it did not work. Blog creation is in progress. Thank you for your patience. Judy

Harmonica Lesson #1

Last the big guy's office...I discovered this special moment. PawPaw and the little guy, playing their hearts out on the harmonicas. Seems like only a short time ago, although it was at least 20 years ago...the big guy and his dad were playing harmonicas together. I forgot how well my husband could play this small insturment. For the little guy...he had never seen one until a few minutes before my entrance. He picked up the concept quickly...adding his "notes" to PawPaw's melodies. "You Are My Sunshine"..."Red River Valley"..."Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"...from one old favorite to another. An unexpected concert I will not soon forget.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Beside The Peaceful Stream

It was quiet, peaceful, and serene as I stopped by the stream for a few moments this week. My schedule was full, my list was long, and my mind was contemplating all that needed to be taken care of. As I stopped beside this quiet country stream in the warm sunshine, with only the sound of rippling water, I was reminded of Psalms 23..."The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows, He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength." Life is demanding. We are constantly being bombarded with information, news events, financial happenings, friends needing comfort...the list is long, and our minds are on overload at times. The few moments of peace and quiet were refreshing to me. My strength was renewed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Creating Memories With Simple Pleasures

Remember summers of the past, when the chores were done and there was time to sit on the porch and talk with friends? Remember when the homemade lemonade and iced tea were staples in the refrigerator? My prayer this summer is to take times for friendships, for conversations without rushing onto the next thing. Life is full, at times stressful, and so fast paced, that often times seasons come and seasons go, without our taking time to enjoy them. Today I am sharing a few of the light snacks that we enjoy in our home. Quick, easy to assemble, and low in calories. Yes, I prefer delicious homemade lemonade and mint tea but, I do not always have it on hand or want the calories that go with it. "Clear Choice" comes in many flavors, and has zero calories. I think it is a refreshing drink. I add slices of lemons, limes and oranges to add some pizazz when serving. If you want to take it up a notch, try taking a long stemmed, washed and dried pansey, and tucking the stem into the sliced cut lemon on the side of the glass. Pansies are edible, so it does not hurt to add them. I add pansies to desserts and drinks many times in the Spring of the year. Try it, you might like the look.

Recently, I was in the home of a good friend. She had a glass bowl of this combination sitting on the table in our afternoon visit. It was a new snack combination to me, but the sweet and salty taste was one I knew I would copy.

Mixing these two beverages together is another low calorie, refreshing drink that my family enjoys. An 8 oz. glass of the Welch's has only 50 calories. Since I use half and half of each beverage, that creates a summer drink with only 25-30 calories per glass. Snacking on the 100-calories packs of Ritz bits with cheese can't hurt either(unless of course, you consume 5 or 6 packs in one sitting). At one time I purchased a large pack of bambo skewers at the grocery store. I use them for many things, but this time I lined fresh blueberries on it and stuck it in the beverage glass. I try to keep ice cubes made with this Welch's drink, on hand in a tupperware container in my freezer.

Three friends leisurely enjoying a warm summer evening together. A good reminder to me to make time for friends and memories this summer. Time to sit on the porch or in the backyard, relax, share and enjoy life. It does not just happen most needs to be planned.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Beauty of Purple

Years ago my friend Alice brought me a package of sticks from her lilac bush. She told me to plant them and watch over the years as a beautiful lilac bush develops in my garden. Each year this bush grows bigger, taller and produces more flowers.

I have been watching and waiting for the flowers to bloom. They are not fully in bloom yet, but pretty enough to bring indoors and enjoy the wonderful aroma they create. How I wish I could share that aroma with you.

I put them in all kinds of different containers, in rooms of my home, so as to enjoy their aroma wherever I go. Thank you Alice, for a gift that keeps on giving year after year.

This photo was in my "Country Homes and Interiors" magazine. The Spring colors fit in perfectly with this post. I liked the vintage china, the glass, and the plum-colored glassware.

A flowering purple tree is right outside my screened-in porch. The deep purple flowers did not come through in this photo, they are a vibrant purple. I look forward every year to the Springtime, when it is in full bloom. Just thought I would share some of my Spring beauty with you to brighten your Monday.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The First Ride Of The Season

My husband and I have been riding motorcycle for many years together. In fact, I know we would both say it is one of our favorite ways to spend time together. Saturday evening was the first ride of the Spring season for the two of us(and yes, we always wear helmets). I have started carrying my husband's Cool Pix camera with me, capturing some of the exquisite beauty that I behold, from my back seat location. Sometimes, I am simply too in awe at the sights I see to even think of using the camera. Other times, I hold the camera up and just start snapping. I want to share a few of these pictures with you.

On leisurely rides like last evenings, we take mostly scenic, country roads in the farmland.

We had a destination in mind, arriving at our son-in-law and daughter's home for a cook-out at 5:00.

The joy of spending time with them is evident in these pictures. They love us, helmet hair and all.

For the children, it had approached bath time and then off to bed. We said our good-byes, and headed for home.

Slowly the sun was setting bringing with it another set of indescribable beauty.

As the sun set, we rode into our driveway, ending our first ride of the season, and so thankful for all of the sights and sounds of an enjoyable ride together.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hand Painted Treasures

This hand painted old wooden window mirror, was a birthday gift to me on my 45th birthday. I learned about the artist from a friend. The artist has a shop behind her home, collects antiques and paints them. Every piece she paints seems to come alive, with her attention to detail and the ability to copy the original, perfectly. This old mirror has a special place on the wall of our bedroom.

Often I have my cup of coffee in the morning, in one of my two exquisitely painted coffee mugs. A birthday gift several years ago, from a dear friend. She purchased them from one of her artist friends, who also seems to have the same ability as the artist mentioned above. These two coffee mugs look so nice sitting in my glass cupboards with lights.

Another treasured birthday gift from my wonderful sister-in-law, years ago. This artist is a good friend of hers, and also does beautiful, real looking painting. I enjoy filling this glass bottle with my homemade salad dressings. It dresses up my kitchen table with it's muted shades of greeen.

Hand painted treasures sure do make meaningful gifts, and have a way of reminding me, each time I use them, of the dear people in my life, who gave them to me. Gifts that keep on giving...the best kind.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Bleeding Hearts"

For generations Bleeding Hearts have been popular in cottage gardens and shady sites, and it is easy to understand why. This is the fifth year for our Bleeding Hearts, and this is the best year yet. These flowers are among the most delightful of all woodland plants, and favorites of many generations of gardeners. They are also called Lady inthe Bath by the English gardeners. These curiously shaped flowers decorate gently arched stems with heart shaped(or lady-shaped, if the flower is turned upside down) deep pink or white blossoms.

Bleeding Hearts are excellent utilized as cut flowers. Arranged with peonies, pansies or roses, they soften the overall lines of your bouquets with graceful flowers. Very pretty as you can see in the tiny crystal vase above. I arranged this bouquet for my dear highschool friend. We are going to their home for dinner this evening. I remember how much she enjoys flowers. It will be a joy to visit with her and her husband, catching up on each others lives.

My mother told me that every time she sees these beautiful flowers, she is reminded of all of the bouquets she would pick and take to my grandma. We miss grandma this year but, we are sure the flowers in Heaven are even prettier than these. If you are looking for something new for your garden, you might want to try planting Bleeding Hearts. They do prefer shade, and can tolerate cool weather.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Leave My Cookies Alone!"

"Arriving at the airport early enough to get through check-in and security in time to make a flight has become a modern art. I recently heard about a woman who, having maneuvered through the single-file portal of entry to her gate, paused to pick up a snack---chocolate-covered cookies and a hot cup of coffee. She looked for a speaker where she could moniter the boarding call and found a seat with a small table between herself and another passenger, a man who appeared fully engrossed in the USA Today sports section. Unloading the coffee, carry-on bags, and purse from her arms, she paused to retrieve the latest edition of People magazine and settled in to enjoy the coffee and cookies before the call to board. What happened next was beyond belief. She unwrapped the package of cookies, took out the first of her newfound indulgences, and began reading her magazine. The man with the newspaper next to her simply reached over, pulled the cookies to his side of the table, and proceeded to eat a cookie without any apparent consideration for the woman. Her frustration and discomfort with the situation began to escalate. She tried to focus on her magazine and ignore what had happened. But then she reached for another cookie, and within a moment, he, too, reached to take another. She felt the heat of anger rising within. Then it happened! She reached for the last cookie, but before her hand got beyond the edge of her magazine, his hand was on it...She glared at him with indignation. He calmly broke the cookie in half, offered her the other half, shrugged his shoulders, and gathered his things in response to the call to board... The woman spent the next hour and a half seething at the nerve, the gall, the arrogance of a man who would act in such a self-indulging manner. She began to imagine a conversation between herself and this man, confronting him after the flight. The shock of the events that unfolded in the airport had left her speechless, but now she knew just what to do. "I'll write a note of protest and deliver it as we exit the plane", she thought. She reached into her bag for a pen and paper and, to her surprise, discovered her unopened sleeve of chocolate cookies. The cookies on the table actually belonged to the man with the newspaper! Life is like that...It is not until we shift our focus and change our perspective...that we are able to come to terms with our own reality glitches." ~ story by David H. Mckinley in "The Search for Satisfaction".

This short story spoke to me when I read it. It reminded me that so often my heartfelt judgement calls are totally inaccurate to the situation that I am confronted with, in daily life. Hastily, I jump to conclusions without really knowing the whole story. Many times over the years, I have discovered that there truly is more to the story than I am aware of...and upon learning one little fact(like her unopened pack of chocolate cookies) can make all of the difference in my perspective. I pray for patience as I face life's many glitches. I wish each of you an opportunity today, to share your cookies with those you come in contact with.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Strawberries Are Here

I look forward to it every year...the homemade sign along the road, announcing that the homegrown strawberries are now for sale. Our Amish neighbors grow the best, sweetest, and biggest fresh strawberries. Yes, it is too early, and too cool for strawberries, but they grow theirs in hot houses. On Saturday I will visit their farm produce stand and buy my first box of the season ....

...and I will make many fun recipes with them. These creations are from my blog, last Spring and early Summer.

Just looking at these pictures makes me anxious for this special time of the year.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Another Dollar Store Discovery

Last week I hurried into the Dollar General store located near my daughter's home. Inside the door was a display with some exceptionally beautiful cards, note pads and packages of 20 gift tags. They are from the "The New Grace Collection" company. I must admit there are many times that I visit the Dollar Stores, and leave empty handed. This time I did not. I purchased packs of these "thank you cards", although they do not say thank you on them which works for me. I can use them to send any message that I want to express. When I brought them home, I removed the outside packaging paper.

Then I took my wonderful "Quickie Glue Pen", which is a staple in my home. It can be purchased inexpensively from any craft store, and my small, never ending container of FINE glitter, from the Martha Stewart collection at Walmart, and proceeded to embellish my already beautiful stationery.

I added light touches to the flower centers, and sprinkled them with glitter(I wish it would be clearer on the picture). I allowed them to dry for an hour, and I was done. To the other pack of note cards, I used touches of the pen and glitter to the butterfly and the centers of the purple flowers on the envelopes. Why do I do this? Just because I think the touches of this fine glitter add so much to already finished paper products. The little glue pen and glitter last for a long time, but for me they are used so often. I use the fine glitter because I only like light touches of glitter.

To complete my project, I put each pack of note cards in clear cellophane bags(from the paper store), tied a matching pen in with a coodinating colored bow. Now, I will put these away to use when the need arises...hostess gift, small birthday gift, thinking of you....or whatever.

I wanted to show you these adorable packs of 20 gift tags that were on the same display area. Think how pretty they would look tied on a bag of cookies, or tied with ribbon on any package. I referred to these when I did my lunches in a box. They are one of the Dollar General purchases that I made that really excited me, because of their uniqueness and beauty. I am aware that it is hit or miss with the Dollar store adventures, but I thought you might enjoy seeing one of my recent "hits".

Monday, April 20, 2009

Uniquely Created

My Uncle upgraded his camera a few weeks ago. He sent me this recent group of pictures that he took. As I sat looking at each picture, I was reminded again of the uniqueness and the purpose of each of these creations. They
individually have their own look, form, color, and purpose. I know for a fact that this peacock never spends time wishing he looked like the hen, or the hen wishing it looked like the peacock. They each go about their lives fulfilling the role in which they were given. I like this picture of the peacock with it's perfectly done hair-do(which never needs hairspray to look that good), and it's vibrant blue coloring.

Look at this hair-do...all done without mousse or hairspray. Imagine how silly it would be if this guy wished his hair would look like the peacocks...or the roosters.

These chickens are fashionably dressed in their black, white and beautiful.

It is with wonder and awe that I look at these pictures. The Creator of the Universe certainly is an artist. I love how each one of His creations have an unique purpose and reason for being on this earth. Just like we as human beings. If only we could all learn to be content with the looks, the body shape, and the personality that we were individually given for very special reason.

Whether tall and thin, or robust like this turkey, or short and stocky like the chickens...they are content in their uniqueness.

I marvel at all of the colorings, and the difference in the colorings of the male and female.

As I begin my week, hopefully I will face it with contentment, knowing that who I am, how I look, and my situation in life, was individually planned and designed for me, with a special purpose.

And hopefully, someone will see beauty in my creation, as I do in each one of these perfectly photographed creations. Uncle, your photograpy is outstanding!


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