Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fourth of July plans and recipes

I am so excited about this weekend! Not only is it only days away from our two-year anniversary (July 6th) but we are also going back to Lake Michigan to spend time with family. Estevan's grandparent's home is located just outside of the adorable little town of St. Joseph, Michigan.

Should be loads of fun
in the lake since we are also bringing along Java (aka: swimming all day makes for a very tired puppy).

We are always profusely spoiled with tons of food (love you Joan!) so I thought that this time we would bring along something festive. Found these delicious recipes on Martha's website. Seriously, where else could you find such festive and delicious recipes?

Vanilla-Raspberry Sundaes with Spoon-Shaped Cookies

Makes 8 sundaes and 60 cookies

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 quarts Vanilla Ice Cream, softened
  • 2 quarts Raspberry Sorbet, softened
  • Blueberries, for garnish
  1. Make the cookies: Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until dough comes together. Shape dough into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out 1 disk of dough to just less than an inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Using a paring knife, cut out spoon shapes, each about 3 inches long.
  3. Transfer to baking sheets. Chill in freezer for 15 minutes. Roll out scraps, and repeat once.
  4. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, about 12 minutes. Transfer sheets to wire racks to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Make the sundaes: In 8 small bowls, layer 1/4 cup ice cream, 1/2 cup sorbet, and another 1/4 cup ice cream. Garnish each sundae with blueberries, and serve with 2 or 3 cookie spoons.

Red, White, and Blue Stars

Makes about 40 sandwich cookies

  • 5 cups cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for surface
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for brushing
  • 3/4 cup raspberry jam
  • 3/4 cup blueberry jam
  • 2 tablespoons sanding sugar
  1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Cream butter and granulated sugar, with a mixer on medium speed, until pale and fluffy. Beat in yolks and vanilla until well combined. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with cream and beating well after each addition. Shape dough into 4 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or up to 3 days).
  2. On floured parchment, roll 1 disk of dough into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle. Repeat with remaining disks. Stack sheets of dough and parchment, and refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 30 minutes.
  3. Spread raspberry jam on 1 sheet of dough, blueberry jam on another. Top each with a plain sheet of dough. Refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut out cookies using a 2 1/2-inch star-shaped cutter, and space 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush with cream, and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes.
  5. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden, 16 to 20 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool completely. If desired, bake dough scraps.

Red, White, and Blueberry Trifle

Serves 6

  • 1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 store-bought pound cake (12 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 bar (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries (three 1/2-pint containers), rinsed and dried
  • 3 cups fresh raspberries (two 6-ounce containers)
  1. Make lemon syrup: In a small saucepan, bring 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup water to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Let cool completely, then brush over both sides of cake slices. Quarter each slice.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese with remaining 1/3 cup sugar on high speed until lightened. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add heavy cream in a steady stream; continue beating until mixture is light and airy (mixture will be like a very soft whipped cream).
  3. Arrange half the cake pieces in the bottom of a 2-quart serving dish. Spoon half the cream-cheese mixture over cake in dollops; spread to sides of dish. Scatter half the blueberries and raspberries on top. Repeat layering with remaining cake, cream-cheese mixture, and berries, piling berries in the center.
  4. Cover, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Strawberry-Shortcake Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen

  • 12 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 7 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.
  2. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing evenly apart. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, and bake until golden brown, 24 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool. Cookies are best served immediately, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.
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Monday, June 29, 2009

June vacation in Ludington

This past weekend we went to our favorite place in Michigan with our favorite people in Michigan, how perfect is that?! Ludington is a small coastal town on the beautiful Lake Michigan that has the most gorgeous beach and adorable little shops.

Internet, no.
Phone calls, no.
Board games, yes.
Card games, yes.
Alcohol, YES!

This combination makes for a very relaxing and fun vacation.

Closeup of lighthouse.

Sunset during a very fun game of Eucher on the beach.

Cute little art gallery, love the advertising.

This little guy made the trip all that more fun. Look at that face!

Coming back to my delphiniums in full bloom was an added bonus... I hate waiting.

Gorgeous lily from one of my former students.
Came back nicely after Java ate it entirely last summer.
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Must haves for summer skin

I love finding new things to pamper my skin with, especially during the summer when more of it showing! This post is dedicated specifically to all those good finds at the super market.

Vaseline Aloe Fresh Protecting Body Lotion with SPF 15 is a lightweight lotion that has an added bonus of SPF 15. I know, I'm only in my 20s, but I'm starting to get concerned about the little wrinkles on my neck that don't disappear when I look up. Every morning I put this on all over, it feels so smooth! I love the light smell, kind of like faint gardenia.

If you're like me and normal sunblock feels like you just poured acid on your face and in your eyes then Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion in SPF 30 is your best friend. It doesn't say that it's water proof, but this is what I used on our honeymoon in Jamaica... in JULY! I apply it to my face whenever I go swimming and it doens't run into my eyes or wipe off.
Plus it's oil free and non-comedogenic, too perfect!

For everyday use Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30 is the perfect face lotion. Goes on light and leaves a silky feeling without being greasy. Makes putting on makeup easy and the SPF 30 protects skin way better than the standard 15 in foundation. Thank you Kaitlin for the sample!

Don't forget your feet! This Pedro Callus Stone by Tweezerman is the best thing that I've ever used on my feet. With a single session I was able to painlessly remove all that thick skin left over from winter boots. It has two sides, one to take down the calluses and the other to smooth everything over. The smooth side can even be used on elbows and knees.
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Accent chairs

With the possibility of moving on the horizon, I'm beginning to dream about new furniture for a bigger home... oh heck, who am I kidding... I've always been dreaming about new furniture for a bigger home. A few years ago we purchased some very cute chairs from Target and they have proven to be very good for the price. The only down side to these chairs is that they are upholstered in a very light colored ultra-suede. No matter what the sales people tell you, IT IS NOT EASY TO CLEAN! Every time I clean them the suede material gets super hard and flat, not soft and velvety for many weeks afterward. Other than the fabric, though, they have been very good chairs and I would consider buying more chairs from Target again until our budgets get bigger.

Check out these chairs, such pretty designs and interesting upholstery... perfect for an accent piece in any room.

So this chair from Pottery Barn may not be as budget friendly as the others but I couldn't help it. I especially love this chair in this swatch of fabric. So bright and cheery!

  1. Gerber Upholstered Chair - Cherry
  2. Polly Upholstered Chair - Aegean
  3. Canary Print Upholstered Chair - Orange
  4. Athens Upholstered Chair - Cinnabar
  5. Brooks Upholstered Chair
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Sweet Things with a Vintage Touch"

I found such a cute little blog and Etsy shop this morning while browsing through blogs linking to other blogs (I swear, I could spend and entire day doing just this). Karuski is a blog dedicated to inspiration for making "sweet things with a vintage touch". I love the feminine clutches and jewelry found on Karuski's Etsy Shop.

BONUS: This adorable Etsy shop ships all their handmade jewelry in cute little gift boxes!
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Friday, June 12, 2009

How the time flies!

We always knew we'd have to sell our home someday but I never imagined that the time would fly by so quickly! I'm sad but a little bit excited to announce that we are putting our cute little house on the market next week. Hopefully, soon we will have another cute but slightly bigger home if everything goes well, wish us luck! I'm putting on my well-worn moving pants, we'll see where we end up.

What do you think of our new and updated curb appeal??

We got rid of all that nasty, plant-killing lava rock, put it a thick layer of mulch, and added new edgers. Oh, and hostas of course!

Hopefully, the mulch will bring our dry shrubs back to life.
Did I mention how much I hate water sucking lava rock?

Welcome home.
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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Hostas

I've finally found a decent hosta nursery! Christians' Greenhouse in Williamston, MI has not only a huge selection of perennials and annuals but also an outstanding collection of hosta. These are some snapshots of my new little babies.

'Old Glory'

'Blue Mouse Ears'

Side shot of 'Blue Mouse Ears'

'Dream Queen'
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Garden shots

Pretty, pretty....

Foxglove 'Camelot'

Geranium 'Dilys'

Malva Sylvestris

Bearded Iris
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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Note to Self

Do not EVER start baking and then go water the garden and shrubs. No... don't even think that you'll remember to check them after watering the shrubbery! Ughhh.
These were going to be cinnamon swirl muffins with a crumble topping. They were going to be delicious. They were going to be breakfast for the next couple of days.

Not anymore. Pin It Now!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Curb appeal

We started one heck of a project this weekend. One of the very first things we noticed about this house was that the front landscaping( geez, who am I kidding... all the landscaping!) lacked curb appeal. The front consisted of red lava rock and matching red scalloped edging. In my opinion, lava rock should only be used at the bottom of pots to assist in drainage and aeration. It should definitely not be used in a location that gets very little rain because of the huge maple in the front curb. I'm fairly convinced that our shrubbery (Monty Python is now playing in my head) is dying because of all that lava rock.

We are now replacing all the lava rock with a neutral brown mulch, excellent moisture retention, and laying down these edgers pictured to the left. I think some hosta would really enjoy this location now.

The rocks were six inches deep in some places!

These edgers were gone in less than 5 hours. Very frugal landscapers in our neighborhood, love it!

Unfortunately, the lava rock is still sitting in bags on the curb. Only one taker so far, and he only took one bag. Anyone have ideas for what we can do with it?

We are also painting all of our exterior doors Regal Red by Dutchboy. When I painted the interior side of this door white I tried taping, did not go well, then I found out that latex paint can be scraped away from window panes using a razor blade. So easy!

What would you think about the window boxes painted this same color? Too much?
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My life mantra.

In the end, who cares about a little poochy belly?

Thank you Abby for the insight. Pin It Now!
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