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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday baking again!

Sour Cream Dark Cherry Coffeecake
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
1 cup frozen dark cherries, thawed and drained
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Turbinado sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-by-9-inch springform bundt pan.
In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Put in the vanilla and almond extracts. With an electric mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture and the sour cream, beating until smooth.
Spoon half of the batter into the bundt pan. Add cherries and half of the almonds. Spoon the remaining batter on top, then put the rest of the cherries and almonds and optional turbinado sugar on top.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I'm making good progress on the Easter dress. The flounces at the bottom are now on. I had planned on making the underneath tier out of a coral cotton fabric, but once I found these butterflies, I knew they should be the choice! Fun!

AS I returned from my shopping for that fabric, yesterday, I didn't see a bent sharp tool lying in the road....immediately, my right rear tire began making a terrible k-thunk, k-thunk noise. I got to my parking place (where I work) and took a look. The handle of the tool was sticking out of my tire!

Hearing of my problem, our gallant sewing machine repair person, Jim, came out to my car and changed the tire. [yeah!!! Jim is getting a batch of cookies when I go back to work tomorrow!]

So, my day off this morning started with a trip to the tire center for the installation of a new tire. Thank goodness for road hazard coverage!!! I didn't have to pay for a new tire!

While I waited, I continued to read "THE HELP". It really is a good read, hard to put down..... so that's all I have done today; I just finished the book and can now start cooking dinner!

I hope to get around to visiting some of your blogs this evening!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Planning some sewing......

This fabric "Good Folks", a line by Anna Maria Horner, is going to become an Easter dress for our granddaughter, Lilia......if the sketch is approved by daughter, Laura.

It is a Simplicity pattern....I think a bit of black trim would set it off just right...we'll see what "mom" thinks...!!!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A day off from work!

I've done my errands, attended yoga class, watched a British mystery DVD (while crocheting a granny square or two!), tidied the house (it was even warm enough to leave the garage open and clean a bit out there), planned Easter sewing for the grandkids! I am now contemplating doing some art work with this bowl and pear. Maybe a watercolor, or at least a sketch for a 5x5 acrylic painting. I have some heat on down in the studio and hope to get down there soon!

I'm so thankful that I have a camera to capture this idea just in case I run out of painting time today! I even played a little in Adobe photoshop with "splatter" and "pastel strokes" just to see the "look" I could get... soft and fuzzy, that's what!

Down to the studio now....or I'll never make it!


Later---I did find a few minutes for a watercolor sketch! Yeah!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Free and easy Valentine!

The February block for the quilt I am designing and teaching. Playful with free motion stitching and embellishment. Lots of textured and decorative threads, even metallic. It says "Love is all there is"

I got off early from work yesterday, and remembering the great hike we had last weekend, we headed out to walk the woods and streets of Eureka Springs before dark. It was not too cold. Mr. Pear took some photos, see the Victorian house below...the town is famous for many like this!

We had a lovely dinner at a pub there and drove home at dusk, or "in the gloaming" ....trees silhouetted against the darkening sky.

Valentine's inevitably means dealing with sugar and sweets.....I saw this plate from British potter, Emma Bridgewater. Not only is it a pear, but it says, "Don't make pudding, have a pear and cheese". Great advice! However, I love to bake....and before the weekend was over I knew I would want to create a wonderful dessert.

To find a recipe, I went to Cornflower's blog...she has great baking ideas and well as knitting and books and scenes of Edinburgh, Scotland. There was a link to Nan's blog with a recipe for a sour cream chocolate cake.

I did have sour cream....SO...I modified the recipe, less sugar, made only half of the large sheet cake as there are only 2 of us (though I will share at work tomorrow too).

Mahogany Sour Cream Cake (Lila's lighter version)

Cream together 1/3 c. butter, 3/4 c. sugar, 1 LARGE egg, 1t. vanilla.
Add 1/4 c. cocoa, 1/4 c. water, 1/2 c. sour cream. Set aside.
In another bowl mix these dry ingredients:
7/8 c. flour, 3/4 t. baking powder, 1/2 t. salt,1/2 t. baking soda.
Fold into moist ingredients then pour batter into a 8X 8 pan (prepared with baking spray).
Bake 22-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool cake and sprinkle powdered sugar on top.
My "frosting" today was mascarpone cheese slightly sweetened and spread on top of the cake.

Final touch, a dusting of cocoa!
One last delicious Valentine idea.... Ricotta Pancakes from "The English Kitchen" blog.
[OH YES! THESE ARE BEAUTIFUL, with fruit on top!]

Sunday, February 07, 2010

A wonderful weekend with two of our favorite people!

Our daughter-in-law, Mary was working near us and we had plans for her to visit this weekend. At the last minute, she found a discount plane ticket and our son Andrew was able to fly down from Minnesota and join all of us. Heaven!
Today, wanting to show the beauties of our area to the newest family member, we drove an hour to the east and hiked a trail back to caves and waterfalls. The ferns and mosses were lovely and the bluffs like walls, rising around the creek bed have given the trail the name "Lost Valley". It was a perfect the high 30's and not windy down along the we thoroughly enjoyed the 3.5 miles of the hike! A real coming out party for Mr. Pear's new knee!

Now for a cup of warm chai, and to prepare for the Superbowl event. [ I'll be back in a day or so with more photos from the hike!]

Later----the photos!

With Andrew along the way, (can't miss those bright red gloves!)

With Mr. Pear at Eden Falls.

Half-way on the trail, where it begins to become more challenging....the first waterfall being explored by Andrew and Mary, above.

Shelf lichen!

A mossy bank with snow!

An easy stroll back to the trail head and parking lot....they'll be off to follow other journeys!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Things I am loving at the moment......

1. This quote from an artist-- "I tell you, the more I think, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” — Vincent Van Gogh

3. Wearing red and pink which makes me feel energized and somehow fights off the cold weather!

4. Working on my granny and scrappy crochet!

5. Listening to Reggae music which makes me feel I am in a warm tropical climate. [Many happy memories of our daughter's wedding in Jamaica!]

6. Resting and relaxing with a good book or movie. Getting enough sleep.

7.Being mindful of each moment (as much as possible, this takes practice!). Taking care of myself, emotionally and physically.

8. Tazo organic green tea. A favorite now!

9. Dark chocolate, of course!!!! [in small amounts, eaten slowly, melting rather than chewing]

10. Being involved in my community. (Not over-committed, but connected!)
Just finished today is this bear which I "created" for a local fund-raiser. We are given a "cookie cutter" teddy bear in either red, pink or white. We are to decorate it, dress it, make it "real". [I was rather not excited when I saw the flat red bear! Once I got started, he just sort of "grew". I think many of the dolls I make do the same thing...they "grow" themselves!] These are to be auctioned off at a soup supper February 28th.
The flat red cookie cutter bear has now become "Beartrand de la Mer", French sailor extraordinaire! He has a hand knit sweater and bell bottoms. His white beret has a black grosgrain band and a bright red pompom on top. In one hand he hold a miniature eiffel tower and his name tag has an antique picture of a mermaid, of course!

Now off to get some of that rest!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Comforting and uplifting....CHAI!

I was visiting blogs yesterday and read about this recipe on Angry Chicken. It seemed worth a try! So, I am sipping on a cup right now....[I had only one tea bag of black tea in the house this morning....a good ole "Lipton".] Not bad! I'll pick up some Assam tea and enjoy this for the rest of the winter!

Chai Concentrate
Published December 1, 2009 [in the food section of the Oregonian newspaper]
Makes about 1 1/2 cups (enough for 28 cups of chai)
Unlike many brands of chai mix, this one includes the sweetener and the milk. All you add is a mug of hot tea.
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon granulated sugar (I didn't add this, no need for more sugar in my opinion!)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
other spices, allspice, star anise, black pepper, ginger, vanilla may be added as well.....
Empty condensed milk into a jar or plastic container with tight-fitting lid. Stir in the sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Store in refrigerator.
To use: Brew a cup of strong black tea, such as Assam, then add two heaping teaspoons of concentrate or more to taste. Stir well until concentrate has fully melted.
To give: Pour into small jars with lids and tie with an attractive bow, or wrap the jar first. Attach a tag with instructions to keep the mix refrigerated and how to use it.
To keep: Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

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