Tips

March 04, 2013

A Winter Treat

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Step 1: Gather little cookies, your favorite sprinkles, and some ice cream.

Step 2: Place a scoop of ice cream on a cookie and top with another, making a little sandwich.

Step 3: Roll the ice cream sandwich edges in the sprinkles.

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Enjoy!

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Sources:

Confetti sprinkles can be found in most supermarkets.

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies: Trader Joes

Ice Cream Scoop: Beam & Anchor, Portland, Oregon

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March 01, 2013

Jimmies

It's fun to find new ways to serve up treats. What can you do when you have tipsy little treats that wobble about when placed on a serving tray? Why, fill a favorite vessel with Jimmies, of course!

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Then, place your little treats...

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Oops, now that's better with ice cream. Just place your little treats, and serve! No more wobbly treats.

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Sources:

Jimmies can be found in most supermarkets.

Ceramic Berry Basket: Crate and Barrel

Mini Ice Cream Cones: Walmart

Tablecloth: Pottery Barn

February 27, 2013

Sprinkle Shakes

Shakes are delicious and tasty. But in February, I like to give them a special spark. Take this ordinary vanilla shake, for example. Ho. Hum.

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Add some sprinkles...

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And stir.

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It's like a tasty fireworks shake. Shake! Shake! Shake! Shake it up!

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Note:

To make the "fireworks, you'll need to make sure to use the teeny tiny dot sprinkles available at most supermarkets.

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And that's how you brighten up a gray, February day.

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February 26, 2013

Sprinkles

This time of year I begin craving color, light, and happy things. What can you find around the house that can add a little cheer?

How about sprinkles? This week, I'm going to show you some happy little things you can do with these sweethearts of the pantry.

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Sprinkles make pretty confetti. Sprinkle them all about the table.

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It's like an instant party. Just because.

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And that makes me happy.

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Sources:

Star sprinkles can be found in most supermarkets.

Jar: Walmart

Tablecloth: Pottery Barn

Pink Dotty Paper Cup: Bake it Pretty

Letter Candies: Hope and Greenwood

Pink Square Plate: Martha Stewart, Macy's

White Square Plate: Target

Button Candies on plate: Jean Philippe

Miniature Plastic Fork: Target

January 30, 2013

How to Make a Beautiful Cake

My website has moved. You can find the cake post you are looking for here.

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January 11, 2012

Sprinkle Toppers

Aren't big sprinkles adorable? The only problem is they're so hard to find. And then they're CRUNCHY, which isn't very enjoyable when you're taking a bite of a soft, fluffy cupcake, right? So, I've taken to making them myself. You can make different shapes, but today I really want to show you hearts. (Another phase of mine... Note the My Favorite Find logo, and this year's FC Show poster... :)) Love love love. It's what it's all about! hee hee

So anyway, they're really simple. Simply take a handful of candy melts in your desired color and heat for about 30(+/-) seconds in the microwave to melt:

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Stir the melts until all smooth. Transfer mixture into the corner of a large ziploc bag and cut the tip off:

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Line a tray with wax paper. Carefully squeeze out heart shapes, one side at a time. Squeeze briefly from the top, angling the heart side to the center, then pulling the shape, without squeezing any more out. Sort of just dragging what you've already squeezed:

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Ohhh. So cute! And SOFT, so they won't break your teeth. Hooray!

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Make as many as you like. zip. zap. zoom. And you're done! Then, top your favorite treats. Like cookies, sundaes, or cupcakes.

Just one.

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Or lots. Why not? We're equal opportunity sprinklers!

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.... and with a few sprinkles, she'll change the world.

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January 06, 2012

The Lemon Steamer Cleaner

The microwave really needs a washing.  This is what happens when children heat food until it explodes. I won't use cleaners that are full of chemicals because I don't want those fumes seeping into our food. Here's what I do instead.

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I remove the tray and give it a wash in hot soapy water. (I love Mrs. Meyers dish soap!)

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Sparkley!

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Next, I slice a lemon in half and squeeze it into a little microwave safe bowl of water.

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I place it into the microwave and cook it on high for 4 minutes. The lemony water boils and steams.

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When it stops, I don't open the door for 10 minutes, allowing that citrusy steam to loosen up the grime.

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When I open the door, I wipe everything down with a clean cloth, and just like that, it's lemony clean.

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Hooray!

 

September 21, 2011

Tomatoes and Harvest Prep

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My tomatoes are going like gang-busters right now, and I'm obsessed with keeping up with the pickings. I can't stand the thought of any going to waste.

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This weekend I did lots of harvesting and am slowly putting each garden bed to rest for the winter as each one is picked out. Good night, snap peas. Good night, edamame. Good night, corn.

While I was harvesting, Colin was doing manly things, like protecting our new trees from the deer. Did you know deer love to mash their antlers against tree bark in the fall? If you don't protect new trees, they'll surely die. Colin likes to use chicken wire to wrap the bark because it's not really noticeable, which just looks a bit nicer in the yard.

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I think that canning tomatoes is kind of unnecessary, because freezing is just so much handier (and keeps the nutritional value much higher because it's not all cooked out during the canning process). To process, I simply chop up the tomatoes (not necessary to chop the cherry tomatoes) and blend them up in my cuisinart. Then I place the mixture in a freezer bag (about 2-3 cups in each) and freeze for use in fresh tomato sauce (or soups, etc.) throughout the winter.

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For a very simple, yet fresh and summery tasting sauce, heat fresh garlic and olive oil in a saucepan just until the garlic is aromatic. Add in the frozen tomatoes (frozen or thawed is fine) and cook just until heated. Season with basil and salt and serve with pasta.

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Tip: Skinning the tomatoes before processing is completely unnecessary here, as the skins are blended up and are not noticeable when eaten.

 

August 01, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Anything

It's always good to have a back-up dessert option for those times friends stop by or you just want to create a wonderful treat in no time flat. Chocolate Dipped Anything is a favorite of mine. I know, I had you at chocolate, right? And to make it even better, why not sprinkle it up? With sprinkles, of course.

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Here's all you need:

Chocolate Chips

Vegetable Oil

Fruit or cookies for dipping

Combine chocolate chips and oil together in a small vessel such as a small measuring cup or bowl. (Something that is a bit more narrow than a standard cereal bowl, yet large enough for you to dip into, as this makes the chocolate go further). I use about 1/2 teaspoon of oil to 1 cup of chocolate chips.

Microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until oil and chocolate are combined and the mixture is melted and smooth.

Dip fruit/cookies into the chocolate, followed by a dip into a bowl of sprinkles (you can skip the sprinkles if you'd prefer) and place onto a sheet of tin foil or waxed paper.

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Allow to sit and harden (you can speed this up by placing them in the fridge for about 15 minutes). Once chocolate has set, transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Ooh-la-la!

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Tips:

I like to do serve a mixture of dipped, un-dipped, some sprinkled, and some not, so there are choices for everyone's tastes.

Tiny bunches of grapes are a favorite of mine for dipping, and are an unexpected twist to the traditional strawberry.

I prefer to use semi-sweet chocolate chips, but milk chocolate and white chocolate are delicious too.

Make sure fruit is completely dry before dipping. Water and chocolate don't mix, and the water will make the chocolate become instantly lumpy and unusable.

I always keep large jars of different sprinkles on hand. I buy mine from Bake it Pretty.

July 14, 2011

Strawberry Fool

Greetings from the countryside of Dayton, Washington!

Colin and I just enjoyed one of the most memorable dinners ever. (I'll be writing about it next week).

And good news! We enjoyed "Strawberry Fool" for dessert. In honor of Strawberry Week, I thought I'd share the concept of the dessert with you here, and how you can re-create it at home.

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Please don't roll your eyes when I tell you this...

This is a very simple dish!

And elegant? YES!

To create, quarter fresh strawberries and gently stir in granulated sugar (add sugar to taste). Let sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, until the strawberries begin to release their juices. Combine strawberry mixture with heavy whipping cream and taste to ensure the mixture is suitably sweetened for a dessert. Beat until cream is stiff.

Scoop beaten strawberry cream mixture onto a chilled platter, top with chocolate cookie wafers and fresh raspberries. Drizzle with sweetened, unwhipped, heavy cream and embellish with thinly sliced fresh mint. Serve immediately.

If you want to get really fancy (and create more work for yourself), drizzle with Creme Anglaise, instead of the sweetened, unwhipped, heavy cream.

And how many times in your life have you gotten to announce that you're serving "Strawberry Fool" for dessert? Yeah, me too.

xo, from Dayton

P.S. Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers are readily area where I live, however, if they're not in your area, the next best substitute (but a pain in the neck) would be Oreo cookies with the filling removed.

July 13, 2011

Strawberry Fun

Let's have some fun with strawberries around the house!

Little cups of fresh strawberries are darling at each person's place at the table:

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An old strawberry ice cream carton turns an ordinary supermarket plant into something sweet:

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Strawberry Candies, like these marshmallows, make a lighthearted display:

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Sources:

The clear glass mini cakestand is from Pottery Barn.

The Italian Strawberry Marshmallows are from Wal-Mart.

May 03, 2011

Kitchen Planning

When I was thinking about the layout of my kitchen, I wanted to try and incorporate as many features as I could that would make the most out of my space. (I like everything to be tucked away).

Magazines and kitchen design books were a really great way to get good ideas. I especially liked the idea of having a chopping block that sits over the garbage, so I can just scrape the unwanted scraps right in.

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Colin even took part in the planning by making sure I could just press on the front of the drawer and it will pop right out, which is really handy if my hands are full. Then, when I'm done, I can just push the chopping block and garbage right back in, and out of the way.

The chopping block is great for chopping that involves skins or trimmings that need to be thrown out. And when I'm chopping things like nuts, I usually just do that right on the counters.

I'm really pleased with my counters, which are quartz (by Zodiaq). They truly seem to be bomb proof. They don't stain, scratch, etch, or scorch and that's such a relief for me because I don't want to be the mom who's constantly freaking out about that sort of thing.

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Post Edits: Yes, I compost. There are two bins in that drawer. One for garbage and one for compost.

You can read more about the drawer here.

Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 , Part 5 , Part 6.

You can read all the details about our farmhouse building process here.

April 13, 2011

Rhubarb Flowers

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February 17, 2011

Serena's Rules for Packing

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February 01, 2011

Cracking the Curry Code

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December 15, 2010

Gingerbread Eggnog Ice-Cream Sandwiches

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A Sprinkling Here, a Sprinkling There

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June 24, 2010

Sifting

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June 16, 2010

Peony Whisperer

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November 20, 2009

The Whipped Cream Secret

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October 22, 2009

The Laundry Room

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October 15, 2009

Button Love

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June 22, 2009

A Trip to the Berry Farm

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One of our favorite summer traditions are multiple trips to the berry farms located just minutes from our home.  My children really love picking out
their berry flat carrier and hopping on the tractor for the ride to the
field.

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There are always contests they dream up to see who can pick the most or
eat the most and everyone leaves with red, strawberry scented fingers
and red-ringed lips.

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Tips for the trip:

We try to pick in the early morning to avoid the mid-day heat and to avoid "baking" the berries as they sit in the flats.

The boys always end up with strawberry stains on their clothing, but they are easily removed when I pre-treat them before washing with ERA detergent.

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Grow your own Patch:

Strawberries are really
easy to care for and with some basic care at the end of the season, you
can enjoy strawberries fresh from your own garden.

  • In the fall, mow or clip down your strawberry plants to avoid pesky bug infestations.
  • Cover completely with straw for protection against harsh weather.  (Avoid using hay as it encourages weed growth).
  • In
    the spring, uncover the plants and move the straw to surround each
    one.  The straw will act as a natural weed barrier and will keep the
    area mud-free for your knees at picking time.

June 17, 2009

Curtain Crush

I love simple curtains and I have to admit, even after all these years, I still have a crush on them.  And here's the good part:  I made them out of vintage sheets.  It's true.

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I LOVE good cotton sheets (vintage) that have that sturdy, yet soft feel.  And whenever I find them at estate sales, I buy them because they're good for so many projects.  For my home and style, the twin sized sheets are the perfect length for my windows.  And exactly right for my sliding glass doors too.  I use them in my kitchen, living room, and master bedroom.

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To make, I just sew ribbon tabs to the top of the sheets, and hang.  Whenever they need to be cleaned, I can just throw them in the washer, and they're as good as new.  And since they're white, the best way to perk them up if they're a bit yellow-ish when I purchase them, is to give them a quick soak in Rit Color Remover.  It turns them perfectly crispy white.

And honestly, it doesn't have to be limited to sheets.  I've found darling blankets that I've turned into curtains for the boys rooms too.  And colorful, patterned sheets are great as well.  But best of all, they're so easy and inexpensive too.

June 12, 2009

Drink-o-Rama!

I love collecting great old pop bottles to fill with special drinks for guests.  Like these I filled with vanilla chai tea I'd brewed the day before.  Delicious juices work really well too!  To seal, I use new corks that we purchase from home improvement stores like Lowes.  And I always make sure to sterilize the bottles before use.

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For this Prairie Party, we placed the bottled ice-teas in a huge old yellowware bowl and filled with ice.



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